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UPDATED: Burglaries in Elmhurst Have Residents on Edge

Burglary victim on Hawthorne sent out a mass email warning friends and neighbors to be vigilant; police chief provides more details and points to discrepancies.

A victim of burglary is doing what she can to get the word out to Elmhurst residents to be extra vigilant.

A resident on the 500 block of South Hawthorne circulated an e-mail to hundreds of Elmhurst residents Wednesday after her home was burglarized on Tuesday, Nov. 29. The email said at least two men had broken into her home and taken money, all of her jewelry, small electronics and cameras while she was out Christmas shopping between noon and 3 p.m. She said the offenders entered the home by forcing open a basement door.

But there are some discrepancies between the email that was circulated and the police report that was filed in this case, police Chief Steve Neubauer said Thursday afternoon.

Based on the work of an evidence technician, the police report states there was no forced entry to the home, Neubauer said. It is believed the offender entered the home through an unlocked door between noon and 12:30 p.m. Nov. 29. The police report said that the bedroom was ransacked and a 9 mm handgun was stolen from a locked safe, and nothing else appeared to be disturbed or missing.

Missing money, jewelry and electronics were not noted at the time of the report, Neubauer said. The homeowner may have "discovered other things that were missing" after the initial report was filed, he said, but he was not aware of it.

The email said that a neighbor noticed two men walking down the street with dark jackets and hoods at about 12:20 p.m., but Neubauer said there is no indication how many people were in the home or whether the men the neighbor saw had anything to do with the crime.

"We don't know that two men broke into the home," he said.

Neubauer said it is important for people to be vigilant, but he doesn't want any misinformation to cause panic among homeowners. He said the department takes these crimes very seriously and victims are traumatized by burglary.

"Their whole lives are turned upside down," he said.

Other Burglaries Recently Reported

Also on Nov. 29, someone broke into a home on the 100 block of East Crestview between noon and 2:45 p.m. The offender entered the home by kicking in the back door, then removed a digital camera, three watches, costume jewelry, $11 and a half-full jar of coins from the living room and master bedroom, according to police reports.

Someone also entered a home in the 400 block of South Arlington between 1 and 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, and took a $100 bill from a wallet left on the floor. Several drawers in a bedroom appeared to have been ransacked, but no other items were reported stolen. Police said the suspect entered through an unlocked back door.

And, someone attempted to break into a garage service door of a home on the 100 block of South Poplar Avenue between 11 a.m. Nov. 24 and 9 p.m. Nov. 29 while the homeowner was out of town. While taking the garbage out on Nov. 29, the homeowner noticed the garage service door was partially open. She called police, who discovered glass panes on the upper half of the door appeared to have been forced open and the inside trim pushed off inside the frame. Pry marks were on the outside door striker and frame. Nothing appeared to be missing from the garage or the home, police said.

'Tis the Season for Breakins

Elmhurst police on Nov. 16 urging caution due to a rash of burglaries in Elmhurst. Neubauer wants to make it clear, however, that burglaries are actually down overall, and during the holiday season there is usually a spike in such crimes.

For all of 2009, there were 65 burglaries and attempted burglaries; in 2010, there were 57; and in 2011, so far there have been 50, he said.

"I do not mean to diminish the importance of this," he said. "We do take these crimes very seriously and we are putting all kinds of effort into finding out who did all of these crimes."

Police are asking residents to set their burglar alarms every time they leave home, lock all windows and doors and install automatic exterior and interior lighting. Also, residents should immediately report any suspicious vehicles or people by calling 911, but never confront them.

"Never feel it is a bother or is not important," a police press release said a couple of weeks ago. "The police will gladly check things out."

As a result of these recent crimes, residents also decided to take action, holding a meeting Dec. 4 to discuss a .

This article previously stated there were two burglaries on the 500 block of South Hawthorne on Nov. 29, when in fact there was only one. We apologize for the error.

Jim Court December 01, 2011 at 01:50 PM
I continue to believe that the large increase in this type of crime in perpetuated by those living outside of Elmhurst. I am convinced that it would be prudent to install video surveillance equipment at all points of entry and exit to Elmhurst. This would create essentially a gated community. In a very bad economy and large scale usage of drugs, crimes like this will continue to escalate. Perhaps it is time for Elmhurst to create a neighborhood watch. This would help prevent some of this crime as well as create a deeper sense of community. As a former Government locksmith, I believe that good locks, strong security measures, and alarm systems go a long ways to prevent crime. When someones home is broken into people suffer great emotional trauma. They feel violated and fearful. This is a subject that needs to be proactively addressed. We cannot sit by passively , hoping it won't happen to us. We are all vulnerable.
York Parent December 01, 2011 at 02:26 PM
Lock your doors and windows. Get an alarm system. Own a dog. If you are home, pay attention to anything that looks suspicious. Make notes of license plates on vehicles that are not common on your block. I disagree that installing video surveillance on all entrance points to Elmhurst is a good idea, however. At a minimum, managing all the data that would come from those cameras would be a logistical nightmare.
Doremus Jessup December 01, 2011 at 02:49 PM
To quote Metra,"If you see something, say something".
Jim Court December 01, 2011 at 03:16 PM
The information would only be used when an event occurs and based on narrow time frames. it would not be a logistical problem at all. If it were well publicized it would be a strong deterrent to crime. It would also catch a large number of people. I also think that all junkman should have to register with the City and pay a very small licensing fee. Most are honest but enough of them are not to merit registration. What is your thought about a community watch being instituted?
Sarah December 01, 2011 at 03:30 PM
A community watch is a great idea during this time
Jim Court December 01, 2011 at 03:35 PM
Sarah, Would you like to join with me to start a community watch? Any others interested? We can meet at Panera Bread at a convenient time.
Ken December 01, 2011 at 05:08 PM
The fact that these occurred during the day seems to point that the perpetrators are probably not employed. Are they from outside of Elmhurst as Jim surmised? Maybe they were now unemployed grass cutters who know when someone is at home or not. I don't know. In the north side of Elmhurst we have quite a few Section 8 'residents' with dubious backgrounds..
Dave Noble December 01, 2011 at 07:07 PM
There are some good ideas posted here so far. A Neighborhood Watch, using your burglar alarm (if you have one), locking your doors (I can't believe one of these burglaries occurred through an unlocked door), PAYING ATTENTION and reporting suspicious activity - these are pretty simple things that can be done immediately by any resident. I've seen numerous neighborhoods in other towns that have people with "We Call Police" and "Neighborhood Watch" signs in their windows. That's another preventative measure that can be taken. We just had a summer full of reports with creepy people approaching residents in the middle of the day, asking for money because they "ran out of gas" or for some other weird reason. Again, DURING THE DAY. As Doremus stated above, if you see something, say something. Who knows, this could be the same 2-3 people doing this, and if they're stopped for questioning because someone reported suspicious activity, they might get arrested on a previous warrant and get locked up before they can burglarize another home.
Ken T December 01, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Also, I like to point out, we have a number of people who are distributing ads, coupons, menus, etc on our doors. Any one of those people can be scoping out homes and/or noting what doors are unlocked and looking into our homes. I think Elmhurst should ban these solicitors from coming to our doors. Even the No Solicitors signs cannot stop them if we are not home...but citywide ban would.
Concerned resident December 01, 2011 at 09:25 PM
All great ideas. Name the time and day for a neighborhood watch meeting. I will attend. Is there a way to make this idea more public? Maybe through the Front Porch, Independent, Press? Last Saturday someone was trying to turn the doorknob on my son's front door while his family was watching a movie. All lights were out. He thought it was a family member and forgot about it. However, later he realized no one rang the bell, knocked, etc. We do need to be vigilant. I'm not sure about signs in the windows. I like what the victim on Hawthorne did by sending an email to notify as many residents as possible about her home burglarly. Similar to the old fashioned phone tree. I think we should be a little scared. We live in a relatively quiet bedroom community and may be a little complacent where safety is concerned. This certainly isn't the 50's.
Jim Court December 02, 2011 at 04:32 AM
Sunday at 5:00 pm at Paneral Bread. I will be there for 15 minutes. longer if anyone arrives. My e-mail address is idealist2@aol.com Thank you All comments had merit and some good ideas.
Stewart Levine December 02, 2011 at 12:12 PM
i will try to make it jim but i might have to work. i suggest everyone get a big dog, there are alot of homeless animals at the animal cruelty society due to the economy... alittle food and water goes a long way. burglars do not want to mess with dogs, they are loud, they bite, and they cause alot of attention. also, I think it is a good idea people just call in on anyone who doesnt look like they belong in the area or are up to any good, you can call them in as a suspicious persons report, the police will come and question the person about what they are doing in the area, and it can prevent crime i also recommend going out and buying a shot gun. that is the best line of defense if someone were to break into your home while you were in it, small single shot pistols tend to miss where as a shot gun, you have a better odds of taking out your mark. remember now, the 14 year old girl who got killed by a robber walking in on him. this stuff does happen. shot gun is the way to go. any robber sees you point that at him he will **** himself immediately
Pat Gerace December 02, 2011 at 12:37 PM
I would like to think that crimes are being committed by outsiders but we were robbed by a local young person with a drug problem. I went to court and testified and despite the fact that this person had robbed a number of Elmhurst homes during the two years prior to my robbery, was sent to drug rehab which he walked away from 4 days later. I have seen his name in the blotter over the years. I am writing this so no one assumes that it must be all outsiders and they are watching out for EVERY ONE! Also be careful on trash day - those trucks that seem to be looking for scrap metal might be looking for other items worth coming back for. It has happened in other towns.
Jim Court December 02, 2011 at 01:19 PM
Pat Gerace, Shouldn't these scrap trucks be required to register? Way too many lawn mowers, bicycles, and other valuables have disappeared. I one caught a scrapper taking a piece of exercise equipment from my back yard and called the Police while I restrained him. I appreciate what they do and most are just hard working people trying to survive and they will not be hurt by having to register PS. Can you post a copy of the public information concerning this individual ?
Holly December 02, 2011 at 05:17 PM
I know a family on 3rd street that had their door kicked in in broad daylight with 2 dogs home. The dogs freaked out,cowered and relieved themselves when they came in. While I agree with the dog idea, you never know how they will react when it actually happens. As for the shotgun, again- a big proponent, when people are on drugs and stealing to support their habit, nothing will deter them. We had a snowblower stolen out of our garage at 8am as I drove off to work by a guy who interrupted the door closure. He looked down the barrel of my husbands shotgun from his vehicle and drove off, albeit with one flat tire. This was in the 90's. I think they're braver today. I'm big on the community watch idea.....
Dave Noble December 02, 2011 at 06:55 PM
Jim, maybe you should ask Karen to post the information for your meeting here on Patch, so that others can join you.
8675309 December 03, 2011 at 05:26 AM
I have my old Neighborhood Watch stickers in my window from Berkeley since I moved into Elmhurst uears ago. I figure crooks won't know if there really is one or not. But that probably won't matter anyway. My mom was one of the residents that started the Berkeley Neighborhood Watch in combination with police dept back in '89. I do believe in it, but it seems these crooks lately are very gutsy. But if more ppl really start becoming aware of what's going on around them maybe some of the break-ins and such can be deterred. I get really nervous with a tween that is sometimes by herself at home too after what happened to the 14 yr old girl that happened to be home during a break-in. I would like to see something change before things get even worse. I will try to meet at Panera on Sunday.
Steven Weissmann December 03, 2011 at 07:21 AM
I was a Police Officer in the 80's and you would be surprised at how many residents and business owners fail to lock doors to their homes and places of business (night and day). If you make sure to lock all points of entry and have dead-bolt locks installed on all doors, you will deter a great number of would-be burglars. If you can't afford (or don't want the expense of) a security system, just putting a sticker (ADT) of a security system on your door is a help. The burglars don't know if you have a system or not and generally will move on if they see indications of a security system. Dogs can be great, but if you travel regularly for work or just don't want the expense (food, vet bills etc...) that goes with a dog, along with the hair and muddy paws, it might not be for you. A great deal of burglaries are NOT the work of unemployed out of towners, but teens that are looking for items to steal to buy drugs. They will target their own (parents) homes, the homes of friends and neighbors....anyone they can get items of value from. I suggest that anyone that does see any person/vehicle that seems suspicious, write down the license plate number or a good description of the person and then call the Police with your concern. They will send a squad out to go question the individuals and make sure they have a legitimate reason for being where they are.
Doremus Jessup December 03, 2011 at 02:08 PM
Judging by the brazen daylight burglaries I would guess they must have a lookout. I would suggest since most of us are creatures of habit we should drive around the block when we leave the house from time to time.
Sally December 03, 2011 at 04:49 PM
Do you think posting when people will not be home on a public forum is a good idea, especially since many of you use your real names?
Floyd December 04, 2011 at 01:36 AM
I have a good idea! We should build little guard houses with security guards and gates at each entryway to Elmhurst. Each resident would get a gate opener and the gate would go for them. If they are not a resident, then they would be interrogated by the security guard before they would be allowed to go any further.
Dave Noble December 04, 2011 at 03:11 AM
Floyd, if you're going to make a sarcastic reply to the comments here, there were certianly better options than the one you chose. It's just a combination of brainstorming and initial reactions to the story (I hope!).
Floyd December 04, 2011 at 07:07 PM
I'm sorry you feel that way, but I'm serious
Dave Noble December 04, 2011 at 07:17 PM
Oh, well then it's me who needs to apologize, Floyd. I mistakenly assumed that you were joking. Good luck with your idea.
Jim Court December 04, 2011 at 08:13 PM
Floyd ( the barber) What does Andy and Barney think of the idea? Just having fun. Jim
Jim Court December 05, 2011 at 12:31 AM
Our first community watch meeting went exceptionally well with a lot of intelligent input and ideas. A facebook page is being launched and methods to publicize will ensue. I want to thank everyone involved.
Jim Court December 20, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Stewart Levine, Why don't you help me organize this? You have some great ideas.

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