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In response to the recent rash of "smash and dash" burglaries in Harvard Square, the University and Cambridge police forces have agreed to step up their patrols of the area.
Over 23 shops have been hit in the last three months by burglars whoh windows with a brick and then take merchandise from the store, said Susan R. Alcorn, director of the Harvard Square Business Association. Several of the stores have been in the Harvard-owned Holyoke Center complex, among them Rogers of Harvard Square and the Harvard Travel Service.
The Crimson Shop, an upscale men's clothier also located in Holyoke Center, has been hit particularly hard over the past three months with a total of seven break-ins since December 23. Owner Charles H. Hasekian estimated the total cost of the replacement windows and stolen merchandise at $50,000.
Alcorn and other representatives of Harvard Square business met last week with Mayor Alice K. Wolf, City Manager Robert W. Healy, Cambridge Police Chief Anthony G. Paolillo and Harvard University Police Chief Paul E. Johnson to discuss the robberies.
Alcorn said the increased patrols, which began two weeks ago, have definitely improved the situation.
"It was just getting to be beyond our ability to curb it," said Alcorn. "[The burglaries] seem to have diminished and we are greatful for that."
Lt. Calvin Kantor, a spokesperson for the Cambridge police, declined to comment on the increased patrols but said the department had apprehended a suspect in one of the robberies.
Kantor said that the police had increased the frequency of the patrols prior to the April 24 meeting with area business and city officials.
Harvard Police Lt. Larry Murphy said that the University police have been involved because of excessive damage to stores in the Holyoke Center.
"We are working in conjunction with Cambridge Police. Everyone has been keeping an extra eye out to what has been going on," said Murphy.
Last week Harvard Real Estate (HRE) installed a new remote controlled cameras in Hoyoke Center and now has a two-way intercom. The new installations allow the Holyoke security guards to detect activity around the shops, notify the police and warn away potential burglars, said David A. Zewinski '76, a senior vice president for property operation and construction at HRE.
Zewinski said that the recent burglaries have been the worst the Square has seen in years.
"I've been at the University since 1972-that was just after the student protests, and people in the Square have said they have never seen so much broken glass since the protests," he said.
"There doesn't seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason to what they are taking," Zewinski said.
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