2011-08-06 / News

Police battling jump in break-ins

By Scott Rawdon

MILLERSPORT, BALTIMORE – The Fairfield County Sheriff’s Department and the Millersport and Baltimore police departments are working together to stop an increase in break-ins in northern Fairfield County.

“We’re making progress,” said Millersport Police Chief John Shirk. He said he couldn’t go into too many details because the cases are under investigation, but Millersport Village has experienced three breaking and entering incidents recently – a number that pales in comparison to other areas of northern Fairfield County.

“If anybody sees anything suspicious, call the police immediately,” he said. “It’s important that people don’t try to solve it themselves.”

Shirk said it’s imperative that people notify police, even if the smallest thing seems out of place. He said it’s frustrating for police when people see suspicious vehicles or people running through yards and even hopping fences and report it long after the fact or not at all.

“It doesn’t hurt to call,” said Shirk. “The more eyes and ears in the community, the better.”

The police chief suggested Millersport residents lock doors and windows at night and, especially, turn on exterior lights. “Exterior lighting is a must,” he said. Not only does it deter criminals, but exterior lighting also makes it easier for police to see any suspicious activity. “It really helps us,” said Shirk.

Baltimore Community Safety Officer Jason Harget said his village has experienced roughly five breaking and entering incidents in the last couple of months. He said break-ins were “on the rise,” but Baltimore Police began patrolling on bicycles during the night, and no break-ins have occurred since the patrolling began.

“ Absolutely, we’ve made progress,” said Harget. He said officers are spending more time walking and more officers are assigned to the night shift.

Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen said the Millersport area has experienced 10 attempted break-ins in and five successful break-ins since June 1. He said most of those crimes have occurred during the night, and the burglars are looking for houses with open doors and windows; most of the victims leave their doors and windows open to cool off their homes during this particularly hot summer.

Phalen said that, generally speaking, people addicted to heroin and opiates are driving the break-ins. These burglars are looking for items that can be sold quickly.

Even though many of the recent Millersport and Baltimore vicinity break-ins have occurred during the night, Phalen said many of Fairfield County’s breakins are happening during the day as well. He said burglars knock on the door during the day, and then break in if no one answers.

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