PARKERSBURG - The Parkersburg Police Department has seen an increasing number of local businesses with unlocked doors after hours.
So far this year, police have found 14 facilities, including businesses, schools and churches, unsecured after business hours. In 2011, 22 insecure premises reports (IPRs) were filed by police.
Sgt. Greg Collins, spokesman for the Parkersburg Police Department, said unlocked buildings can lead to breaking and enterings and tie up police officers working the night shift.
"The majority, if not all, of these cases occur when officers check doors while on patrol, and we are proud of our officers who make the effort to get out of their cruisers and check a door to protect citizens' property," said Collins. "IPR reports are generally the result of good old-fashioned police work."
Bicycle patrols on midnight shift have done a particularly good job of checking businesses for unlocked doors, Collins said.
Most of the reports filed have been on businesses scattered throughout the Parkersburg area, not just downtown.
"A few are schools, but the rest are every kind of business you can imagine," he said. "Most of these have had only one or two occasions to be found insecure. The worst offender has been found unlocked five times within the past three months, but that's an anomaly."
Unlocked doors can lead to a number of crimes, including destruction of properties, breaking and enterings and thefts.
"We do get breaking and enterings and burglaries where we aren't able to determine a point of entry, possibly indicating entry was gained through an unlocked door or window," said Collins. "You can bet that there are criminals out there shaking doors and checking windows looking for that easy theft."
Parkersburg officials are urging business owners and agency representatives to lock their properties at the end of the day, and provide the Wood County 911 Center with after-hours contact information in case of a problem.
Phone numbers can be provided by calling the business office of the 911 Center at 304-420-0911 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
"We really need to get good contact information for these places, so when we find something wrong, we can let the owners or representatives know," said Collins. "Often we need someone with a key to respond and secure the structure because it can't be done without one."