The area east of Hillcrest between Royal and Forest has experienced a “rash of incidents” since the beginning of May, putting neighbors on edge as more and more crime watch alerts enter their email inboxes.

Over the past month, they’ve seen stolen or ransacked cars, home burglaries – one that wiped out $25,000 worth of jewelry -, suspicious people roaming the neighborhood … the list goes on.

Officer Mark Lutz, the neighborhood police officer for the area, ran the numbers, comparing the current statistics to those of this time last year. Overall crime is actually down by 21 percent. Here’s how it breaks down:

From January 2011 to May 2011, there were 30 burglaries for Hillcrest Forest (Beat 651), including both residential and business. That averages to about five or six a month. This year, the number dropped to 18 – about three a month. Car burglaries, on the other hand, have increased from 19 to 31.

The volunteer crime watch group is doing its job keeping neighbors informed, but as awareness increases, so does panic, often times, Lutz says.

“It gives people a sense that crime is bad. We have to do a better job of putting it into context.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean there’s not cause for concern. The North Central division deployed the community engagement unit to the area for more patrol, temporarily. One arrest was made last week in connection with the BMVs. Details are unavailable as the investigation is still ongoing, Lutz says. It could be one group of criminals hitting the area since they often return to neighborhoods where they are successful.

Neighbors have been worried about a suspicious white truck driving through the neighborhood. Lutz says he cannot comment on that part of the investigation either.

However, he insists, “This is the time to mobilize. We will not have the success we want without community help.”

Especially with the onset of summer, it’s time for other crime watch groups around Preston Hollow and North Dallas to be proactive and strengthen their programs.

Many of the car burglaries happened when doors were unlocked, and valuables were left in view. It’s a good idea to park the car in the garage if possible.

Here are some other tips:

– If you’re going out of town, call the Dallas Police Department at 214.670.7253, provide the dates you will be gone, and officers will drive by and check on your house. Several homeowners took advantage of this over Memorial Day weekend.

Email Officer Lutz, and he can set up a time for officers to come over to offer some inside tips on how to make your home harder to break into.

– Call 911 when you see anything suspicious.

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