Rash of burglaries frightens residents

By Staff
WINDOW BASHED The passenger side window of this Mazda Tribute was broken with a large rock at the home of Leigh and Steve Gillespie in the 3200 block of 29th Avenue. The owners say the incident apparently happened about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and that their dog evidently scared the intruder away. Because nothing was stolen, police listed the incident as vandalism. Photo by Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
By Erin Hilsabeck / staff writer
June 10, 2004
A brick smashed through the passenger window of the truck outside a north central Meridian home, vandals took $100 in cash and vehicle owner Mike Covert was stuck with a $600 repair bill.
Covert, who has lived in his 31st Street home for 10 years and in the same neighborhood for 50, said a rash of car and home burglaries the past two months has left him fearful for his and his neighbors' safety.
Meridian Police Department officials agree home and car burglaries are a growing problem particularly in the north central Meridian area from 20th Street to North Hills Street.
Keith McCary, Meridian's assistant police chief, said he plans to talk about the crime wave at next week's city council meeting. But until then, he said, he hopes residents will take extra safety precautions.
Police reaction
The Meridian Police Department has 90 sworn officers, including 61 patrol officers. McCary said 16 uniformed officers patrol city streets during the day and 14 patrol the streets at night.
McCary said the police department added four extra uniformed officers to patrol the areas hit hardest by burglaries. He also said most officers are working extra hours.
McCary advised residents to invest in extra outdoor lighting and to never leave anything valuable inside a vehicle. He also urged people to call the police and 911 "if you see anything suspicious."
Meridian City Councilman Bobby Smith of Ward 5, whose district includes the areas hit by burglaries, said he also is concerned. Smith said he has received 25 to 30 calls the last four weeks from concerned residents.
Smith said most callers live in a 10- to 15-block radius of Highland Baptist Church, at 3400 27th St. Smith said he has asked the mayor to provide a report of the last three months of burglaries and their locations.
Night burglaries
McCary said that some of the car and home burglaries occur at night.
Burglars will check for unlocked vehicles, he said, or possibly open back door. They'll break a window and take what can be easily carried away, he said, including cash, jewelry and compact discs.
McCary said the burglars likely will pawn what they can and use the cash to buy drugs.
Meridian High School teacher Amy Dean said her sister, who lives on 28th Avenue, was robbed May 25. Vandals broke into her house, Dean said, and took a digital camera and several pieces of jewelry.
Covert said he has never seen a surge of crime like this and can think of eight to 10 neighbors whose homes or vehicles have been burglarized in the last few weeks just like his vehicle was last month.

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