January 20, 2009 in City

Break-ins leave many on edge

Police think one person committed most
By The Spokesman-Review
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

This map by graphic artist Molly Quinn shows jewelry burglaries that have hit Spokane in the past two months.
(Full-size photo)

To get involved

To learn more about Block Watch contact your neighborhood Spokane C.O.P.S. station. Information is available at www.spokanecops.org.

Six homes in Susan Morgan’s neighborhood had already been robbed when two more were hit just down the street.

So the Southgate neighborhood resident had a home alarm system installed, and many of her neighbors plan to do the same, she said. She’s also working to make it apparent that hers is a Block Watch neighborhood.

Since Nov. 22, there have been 41 residential burglaries in Spokane, 28 on the South Hill and 13 in the northwest part of the city, according to Spokane police. In most cases, the burglar entered the house through a door, went straight to the master bedroom to steal jewelry, then left, said Spokane police Sgt. Keith Cummings. The break-ins all took place in the late afternoon.

The spree has Spokane police detectives at a loss.

“There’s no witness information, no forensic evidence,” and the jewelry is not turning up anywhere police can find it, Cummings said. “This is highly unusual, and they are good at it. People are seeing them and not seeing them at the same time.”

Authorities suspect one person is behind most of the burglaries. The detective suggested the perpetrator must be someone who looks as if he’s supposed to be there, like a delivery person. “The guess would be they are staking out houses, waiting for people to leave and breaking in,” Cummings said.

As far as the investigation, “what we can do with it right now is pretty limited,” he said.

He advised residents to “get to know your neighbors. Talk to them. Get to know their routines, and make sure they know yours.”

Morgan already was a member of Block Watch, but the recent South Hill burglaries have her and her neighbors feeling anxious. The most recent burglary, on Wednesday, was in Morgan’s neighborhood at 51st Avenue and Woodfield Lane.

Southgate neighborhood residents got together for a regular meeting last week, and the burglaries were the main topic of conversation.

“Having your house burglarized, or even your garage broken into, is very personal,” said Maurece Vulcano, director of Spokane’s C.O.P.S. program. “But you have to back up and see what you can do for prevention. That’s where Block Watch comes in.”

Police say just a Block Watch sign hanging from a street post can make a thief think twice about targeting a particular house or neighborhood.

At the Southgate neighborhood meeting, Vulcano encouraged everyone to get to know one another before they left. “The more heads that come together with solutions, the better off you are going to be.”

Contact Jody Lawrence-Turner at (509) 459-5593 or jodyl@spokesman.com.


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