CPD sees increase in spring break burglaries

There were 21 residential and three commercial burglaries
David Freyermuth / Graphic Designer

The Columbia Police Department noticed an increase in burglaries during spring break this year. According to a CPD news release, burglaries during spring break increased by four from spring break in 2012.

There were 21 residential burglaries in both 2012 and 2013. There were no reported commercial burglaries in 2012, but there were three in 2013 as well as the burglary of a storage unit.

CPD spokeswoman Latisha Stroer said the burglaries were in different locations from last spring break.

A burglary is any crime committed once inside a residence, Stroer said. Stroer said most of the burglaries during spring break were second-degree burglaries because there were no residents inside when the burglaries occurred.

Before spring break, CPD sent out a news release with burglary prevention tips and alerts to students at Stephens, Columbia College and MU. CPD also released a burglary prevention video on its website. 

“(Burglars) want to get in, be undetected and leave, take whatever they can,” Stroer said. “A lot of times burglars watch a residence for some time.”

Stroer said burglars will watch a residence to see when the residents leave and the idea that burglars strike mainly at night is a myth.

"During the day the burglars know that (the residents) are at work or out running errands,” Stroer said.

Stroer said people should change the way they leave for work in the morning by leaving some lights or the television on when they’re not home.

When officers respond to a burglary call, Stroer said they find out from dispatch if the residents had already entered their home or not. Once officers get there, they search the residence and look for evidence. Officers will ask the residents how long they were gone, what they touched in the home and what is missing. Then, officers take pictures of the residence, ask neighbors if they saw anything suspicious and attempt to get fingerprints or DNA.

Stroer said commercial burglaries are much different because businesses are open all the time.

CPD caught at least one of the spring break burglars. The most recent spring break commercial burglary happened at the Columbia Public Library. At first, it was reported as theft because the suspect stole a card off an employee. The employee did not know it was missing until the card was used to enter the building at 2 a.m. when the thief took a photo from one of the offices.

“We’re not immune to the same types of activities that happen in the rest of Columbia,” Columbia Public Library spokeswoman Mitzi St. John said.

St. John said the library has no plans to change its security measures.

Stroer said the most burglaries happen in December, but March and October often have high burglary numbers as well.

“Around fall when school starts, we see an increase,” Stroer said.

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