'We need to secure ourselves,' Ann Arbor police chief tells residents from city's northwest side
Yes, it’s Ann Arbor, but residents need to lock their doors and windows. Close the garage. And get a burglar alarm.
That was the message Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones delivered to about 85 citizens tonight at the Ann Arbor Community Center. The turnout was in response to a recent series of daytime burglaries on the city’s northwest side.
The break-ins have occurred between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. and followed the same pattern. The burglar has rung doorbells, then entered through the rear windows of unoccupied homes. Most cases involved unlocked windows and cut screens, although in one incident a blunt object was used to smash glass. On a single occasion, entry was gained through the second floor, indicating the burglar is “very agile,” Jones said.
“He has taken laptops and small items he could run with,” he said. “I believe, as an old police officer, this person is pretty comfortable in that neighborhood.”
Police are investigating a couple leads, including reports of a suspicious man with a backpack and of a man who knocks at front doors and, in one instance, asked for “Veronica Evans.”
The course now is to “rattle some doors and make someone uncomfortable,” Jones said. “We plan on getting him.”
Meanwhile, Jones said it’s time for people to start putting the garage door down.
“I can see the trend, and the trend is that we need to secure ourselves.”
Other towns such as Canton, Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills are also experiencing an increase in break-ins, for which Jones blamed the economic conditions. “Now is not the time, because of what’s gone on in the economy, that you can go out without locking your doors.”
Detective Michael Lencioni told the audience investigators believe the burglar has been seen by many people because of his doorbell-ringing. So far, no vehicle has been observed in direct connection with the man, but “many tips” have come in.
He said investigators are interested in any information and encourage people to call the police department.
Julia Blough brought her 8-month-old son Emmett to the meeting to hear what officials had to say.
"It's been pretty useful," said Blough, a resident of Garden Homes Park subdivision. "I also wanted to see how other people reacted."
Questions and comments from residents covered a wide range of subjects, from tall weeds that might obscure sightlines between houses to whether it's OK to shoot an armed intruder.
Ronald Ahrens is a freelance writer for AnnArbor.com.