By Sue Botos
City officials and police are asking that residents become their partners in an attempt to thwart a rash of attempted and successful break-ins of homes and vehicles.
“We are mobilizing other options,” stated Mayor Pam Bobst at City Council’s October 12 legislative session. She said organizations such as auxiliary police, the West Shore Enforcement Bureau (WEB) and the Rocky River Citizens’ Police Academy are being consulted about how to combat the wave of burglaries which have been occurring in Rocky River, Bay Village and other West Shore communities, as well as in Avon and Avon Lake.
Rocky River police public information officer Lt. George Lichman, said that during the first few weeks of October, nine home break-ins or attempts have occurred, compared to three in June, July and September, and one report in August. He said that six of the October incidents were attempts, including four in the Wooster Estates neighborhood (Wooster Road south of Center Ridge between Wooster and Linden Roads) one on Northview Road and one on Frazier Drive.
He added that a completed burglary occurred in Wooster Estates during the overnight hours, and two more in other parts of the city.
Unlocked cars in the same neighborhoods were entered and items taken.
“Keeping things lock up is the best advice,” said Lichman, noting that while some of the would-be burglars cut window and door screens, they were stopped by locks. He noted that these incidents did not involve “extreme measures” such as smashing windows or breaking down doors.
Police Chief Kelly Stillman has remarked that theses are “crimes of opportunity”, easily discouraged by locking doors, windows and cars, as well as removing valuables from vehicles.
Lichman noted, however, that the thieves are getting bolder, going beyond robbing homes during the day when residents are at work. “It’s not good news when there are night time attempts with people at home,” said Lichman.
While Lichman did not want to speculate on the identity of the suspects and if the incidents were related, some suspects have been apprehended. In September, three people were arrested for breaking into a Lakewood home after the thieves stole the owner’s car, and police tracked them down with the vehicle’s On-Star system. The trio was apprehended on Northview Road in Rocky River.
The city experienced a similar wave of break-ins December 2011 through February 2012, when 13 attempted or successful burglaries were reported.
While keeping homes are cars locked and valuables out of sight are important ways to discourage a would-be thief, Lichman added that residents are urged to call police if any suspicious or unusual activity is noted in a neighborhood. For example, the report of a barking dog brought tipped off police to the activity in the Wooster Estates area. He said police are actively investigating each case and taking additional measures during the evening hours to prevent and apprehend offenders.
Bobst noted that safety officer Chris Camp has been working with residents on several streets to set up neighborhood crime watch programs, which trains people on how to be more observant of activities, in their area. Residents with questions about the break-ins or who would like more information on crime prevention should call the police department at 331-1234.