LANCASTER - A crime alert issued last Wednesday by the Lancaster Police Department paid off Thursday with several arrests.

Just after 10 a.m Thursday, an alert homeowner called police to report that he saw three young men looking into a residence in the 2700 block of E. Pepperidge.

The neighborhood is one in which a concentration of burglaries have occurred since the first of the year, according to a press release issued by the Lancaster Police Department.

Responding officers located two of the men a few blocks away in the 900 block of Potomac, with James Sample, 18, of Lancaster, arrested for an outstanding warrant for burglary of a habitation. Sample was booked into the DeSoto Jail with bail set at $50,000.

The burglary occurred May 14 in the 1300 block of Marvin Gardens, a short distance north of the location where Sample was spotted Thursday, according to the release.

“Detectives are interviewing Sample and at least two other men in connection with other home burglaries and attempted burglaries that were discovered in the immediate area this morning,” the release reads.

The increase in home burglaries this year has prompted Lancaster police to target burglary hotspots while urging residents to exercise greater vigilance in home security.

Figures from Jan. 1-May 20 show a steady increase in reported burglaries. The thieves are primarily targeting residential areas, including apartment complexes.

The offenses are generally occurring during daylight hours from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Entry is being gained into the locations by kicking in the front or rear door or breaking windows that are concealed by foliage. Police are concerned some residents have lax attitudes about home security because they have lived in an area for quite some time or because they live in a new subdivision.

A majority of the offenses are occurring while the victim is away at work or running errands.

“Typical burglaries only take between one to five minutes and usually involve two to four suspects,” notes the press release, which urges residents to call police if they see anyone acting suspiciously around their homes, their neighbor’s home or in the neighborhood.

“If someone comes to your door and asks for an unfamiliar person, get a good description of that person and anyone accompanying them,” the release reads. “If possible, obtain a description of their vehicle, if one is present, and a direction of travel after they leave your location and contact police. Don’t let anyone, children included, walk freely throughout the interior of your home. They may be scoping the layout of your home and taking an inventory of your household items.”

Homeowners should avoid using cheap locks and should install security systems, engrave their property with ID numbers and record all serial numbers so stolen items can be more easily traced.

Typical items targeted by the thieves are electronic items such as DVD players, DVD movies, laptop computers, jewelry, TVs, game consoles, games, digital cameras and firearms.

Thieves are often ransacking the entire house and looking in all of the typical hiding places of homeowners to find these concealed items. The ransacking has included flipping the mattress and pulling out all drawers, leaving a location in complete disarray.

The Lancaster Police Department offers a free home security check for homeowners in the city. For more information about the security check, call (972) 218-2700.

The department also has a crime tip hotline at (972) 218-2720 for anyone wanting to provide information. Callers may remain anonymous and should leave information regarding activity or people in their neighborhoods who may not have seemed suspicious at the time observed, but may seem suspicious later.

This line should be used to report non-emergency information that does not require an immediate police response.

People who want to report an emergency should dial 911 immediately.