Indianola police recently made three arrests in conjunction with an increase in burglaries that have taken place over the past 60 days.
IPD Chief Edrick Hall said the department has experienced a surge in break-ins and although he cannot be definite about the cause of the increase, he speculates that in part it has to do with the recent release of some local residents from prison.
Hall said that all suspects are innocent until proven guilty, but he could not discount the possible link.
In at least one of the cases a person who had been in prison for burglarizing a business was arrested again after being seen on video breaking into the same establishment soon after he was released from jail.
According to Hall, from July 1 through August 27, the department has been called out for 19 automobile burglaries and 30 home or business burglaries.
Hall said they don’t believe any outside rings are operating in the area or that the break-ins are related. “We don’t think that all of them are connected, but what we think is that there are probably three or four different groups,” Hall said.
In the wake of these burglaries, Hall offered some advice to the citizens; especially those who decide to leave their vehicles unlocked to avert vandalism. He first acknowledged that people have varying opinions about whether they should they leave their doors locked or unlocked.
He then shared that most of the auto burglaries they are called out for are a result of people leaving their doors unlocked. He recommends that if you are going to leave the vehicle unlocked, do not leave any valuables in there and attempt to hide them.
He suggests totally removing any valuables because leaving it unlocked with hidden items defeats the purpose. He said to also be mindful that if you leave your vehicle unlocked, you also give the criminal access to your trunk and hood where your battery and other items can also be taken.
He also strongly encourages residents not to leave guns in their vehicle. “The last thing you would want is to leave a weapon in your car and somebody comes in and burglarizes your home and you’re inside and the same weapon you had for protection is now in the hands of the burglar, that could be a very deadly situation,” he said.
Hall said even if you have another weapon in your home, you still would have to get to it. In addition, Hall said that leaving a weapon in a vehicle increases the chances of that weapon being used in a homicide or other crime.
Hall said personally, he locks his vehicle doors and reminds owners, especially those with newer models that almost all of those cars come with theft deterrent systems that sound alarms and flash lights in the event someone breaks your glass. “If you leave your doors unlocked that’s not going to work,” he said.
For the homeowners, he suggests using adequate lighting around your home and whenever possible, use cameras. “That’s a great tool to utilize to help us find these people that have been doing it.” Hall said there are several reasonably priced options available online and the department can possibly advise on camera selection and installation.
He also advocates establishing neighborhood watch programs and said his department can assist in getting those set up as well. “The biggest thing is nobody has the same sleep pattern, so it’s not hard to set it up,” Hall said.
He encourages people to be observant if they happen to be going to or from work at night, go outside to walk the dog or look out of the window while getting a drink of water. “You’re awake at 3 o’clock in the morning, take a look at your neighbor’s house and see if you see anything. If you see anybody walking on your way to work or going in at night give us a call and let us know somebody’s walking,” Hall said.
He maintains that it is good to know the people in your neighborhood because if you see someone who probably shouldn’t be there during that time of the night you can call it in. “Let us check them out and decide what they are doing there in that area. “We’re not trying to profile or stereotype, but if you become your brother’s keeper, your sister’s keeper you’ll know who belongs in your neighborhood and who doesn’t,” Hall said.
He also asserts the importance of labeling and recording the serial numbers on your items especially electronics and weapons, so that when they are found, they can be returned to the rightful owners. “In some of these burglaries we have returned some property and it’s always a good feeling being able to give the homeowners some of their property back. But it’s hard when you do have property and it’s not able to be identified and we’ve got five people missing a 32-inch TV,” Hall said.
Hall further suggests that homeowners with security systems contact their monitoring service and ask that the police department be the first contact. He said sometimes the police are third or fourth on the list after homeowners and keyholders and the delay in officers being called out gives the burglar added time to get away.
He said even if it is a false alarm, the call can be cancelled. However, he stated that even if it is cancelled his officers would continue to the site to make sure the homeowner is not in a coerced or hostage situation.
Hall said the burglaries are not limited to any particular areas and he wants the citizens to know that he and his officers are working diligently to make arrests and the public's safety and protection is at the foremost of their intentions.