Police Seek to Limit Ellicott City Burglaries
In a neighborhood where burglaries have risen in the past year, a police captain talks about the investigation and safety.
In one year, there have been more than 30 residential burglaries in the Dunloggin neighborhood, according to Howard County Police Northern District Capt. Daniel Coon. Police are asking for residents’ help, not only to find suspects in some of the open cases, but also to limit some of the preventable crimes.
Eight of the 32 burglary cases have been closed by arrest, Coon said Wednesday night at a Saint John's Community Association meeting at First Lutheran Church.
Police have suspects in five of the burglaries – “We have a pretty good idea who it is, but are still gathering evidence.” In the remaining 12 – including this Dec. 28 burglary – police do not have suspects, Coon said.
Dunloggin is not unique in its recent increase in burglaries, Coon said. “You see it everywhere, [burglars] come into town, they do five or six in a short period of time,” then they leave. “I’m saying to myself, ‘I can’t believe these people aren’t running into each other in the middle of the night.'” He attributed some of the crime to the economy, some of it to drugs.
“There are a lot of different groups,” he said. They are coming from Oella, Baltimore City, Prince George’s County … “Can I say that they're coming from one specific area? No, I can’t.”
The burglaries fall into a few categories: forced entry; entry into unlocked garages; and theft from vehicles, mostly unlocked as well. Residents were also warned of several scams involving people coming into the neighborhood, soliciting work cleaning gutters or picking up yard waste.
One of the crimes Coon called the “most brazen,” were the cat burglaries –burglars who steal while residents are asleep in the house. Sometimes, of course, the residents wake up and confront the burglar.
One resident asked Coon if any of the burglars had been carrying a gun. “We have not found that any of them are carrying firearms at the time of the crime,” Coon said. “Can I say they don’t have firearms for sure? No.” He added that most of the altercations with burglars resulted from the resident chasing the burglar down.
“Usually when burglars are confronted,” he said, “They take off.”
Diane Butler, president of the association, asked why, once caught, burglars were sometimes released on bail, as was the case when the suspected “kick-in burglars," who police say robbed homes throughout and beyond Howard County, were released on bail and then fled the state.
“I don’t have the answer to that,” Coon said. He outlined the commissioner’s standards for setting bail, which include whether the person is a violent threat to society, and if there is a history of a person not showing up for court. “I really can’t speak for the commissioners.” he said, “But it is frustrating. It’s as frustrating for us as it is for you.”
Coon offered tips for residents to keep themselves and their property safe:
Lock your doors: “I can’t stress this enough. Ninety percent of thefts from vehicles are from unlocked cars. I can’t believe what people leave in their unlocked cars – briefcases, purses, cell phones … and if you’re going to leave your purse in the front door, even if you lock it, don’t expect it to be there when you get back. “
Write down your equipments’ serial numbers: “We make a lot of cases by checking pawn records and histories, we can back track with those to see what’s being sold. We are able to ID suspects that way.”
Call 9-1-1: “Sometimes people are hesitant because they think it’s not an emergency. Call 9-1-1.”
Tell your kids not to open the door: “If you’re home alone and someone knocks on the door and you don’t know who it is, don’t open it. If that person starts trying to open the door, call 9-1-1.”
Consider home security and video surveillance: “Video surveillance cameras … are so cheap now. They record or monitor and notify you when motion sets it off.” “Security systems? Do I encourage them? Yes. Are they a deterrent to most? Yes."
This article has been edited to correct the name of the Saint John's Community Association.