Columbus homeowners got more tricks than treats this October — mostly in the form of busted windows, broken doors and busted door frames.
Since the Columbus Police Department released its crime statistics for the third quarter, "burglary" has been the buzz word in the crime news world.
Compared to 2012's third quarter, burglaries have seen a 25 percent increase. That's 500 more than last year, which means burglaries make up more than half of the incidents that increased in the "serious crimes" category.
But it wasn't really a shock to get this news. Even before the crime statistics were released, I received multiple e-mails and phone calls from victims and neighbors, complaining about the rash of burglaries that have terrorized several neighborhoods and apartment complexes.
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The Columbus Police Department's Burglary and Theft Division was not reached for comment.
One victim, LaChondra McKissic, who works as a server at Waffle House, said her Bull Creek Apartment was burglarized.
McKissic lost $5,000 worth of goods, including several pairs of shoes, a Playstation 3, an Xbox 360 with Kinect and a 61-inch TV.
On the northside, burglaries are proliferating as well.
Lynch Road resident Fran Fluker said her door was kicked in recently while occupants were away from the house. Several pieces of sentimental jewelry and a few weapons were taken during the incident.
Fluker said she's lived in her home for three years, but has never had a problem with break-ins.
"Our house was built 30 odd years ago and as much as we felt secure in there, it was obviously a joke," she said. "Deadbolts don't stop anyone. They're really a false sense of security. If someone wants to get in your house, they will."
As painful as it is to lose the items, the loss of security, not possessions, is what bothers Fluker.
"It's just stuff," she said repeatedly Thursday. "I'm thankful that no one was hurt. There was some sentimental value attached to the jewelry and there's concern for two more weapons out on the street."
While law enforcement agencies work to solve the outbreak of burglaries, neighbors might be the best place citizens can look for peace of mind. In fact, neighbor tips have led to several burglary related arrests in recent weeks.
On Friday, five men — including a newly named suspect in the July Curtis Turner slaying — were charged with several burglaries. A construction worker's tip about a suspicious vehicle in the area near David Court led to the arrests of those suspects.
Before that, subscribers to the Windemede e-mail group helped solve a string of burglaries that were spread across North Columbus and some parts of Harris County.
According to the e-mails, a tan Chevrolet vehicle committed a burglary in the Rocky Shoals subdivision in Harris County during late October. However, someone in the area was able to snag pictures of the vehicle, and police were able to pair the vehicle with a burglary that happened on Wellington Place in North Columbus.
"This information was provided to our burglary & theft detectives at which time Detective Donna Baker was patrolling her assigned area near Calvin Avenue and observed the vehicle," Chief Ricky Boren wrote in an e-mail to the group. "She followed the vehicle and a marked unit was contacted to conduct a traffic stop. Upon stopping the vehicle, the driver fled on foot and the other three occupants were placed into custody."
The female suspect, who was not named, later gave police information on eight different burglaries. She fingered her boyfriend as the main perpetrator, according to the e-mail.
"This is a perfect example of what working together can accomplish," Boren wrote. "We in area law enforcement appreciate your efforts as well as the vigilance of our citizens. As we always say, pay close attention to your surroundings and if there is a question or suspicion call 911."
October crime map
For newcomers to the map, a note: it isn't meant to be comprehensive. Columbus law enforcement sometimes make hundreds of arrests in a week, most mundane and some with little information useful to the public.
Instead of mapping each individual report, we've highlighted the crimes we've written about throughout the week. We've also made an effort to mark areas that have seen multiple burglaries or property crimes during the week.
Here's the breakdown:
Tombstone: Homicides and fatalities
Gun: Armed assaults and assaults where an unknown weapon was used
Boxing gloves: Unarmed assaults and batteries
Don't touch sign: Sexual crimes, public exposure and stalking crimes
Money bag: Robberies, burglaries and fraud
Pill: Drug related arrests
Bomb: Bomb threats and terroristic threats
Speed limit sign: Citations and misdemeanor offenses
Shopping cart: Shoplifting and petty theft
Car: Traffic accident
Because this is the monthly crime map, and some incidences happened at the same or almost the same location, users may have to zoom in close to see every entry.