PARKERSBURG - Three additional burglaries reported over the weekend have been linked to a rash in Parkersburg, officials said on Wednesday.
The three burglaries occurred in the Fairview Heights area, said Sgt. Greg Nangle, a detective in the Parkersburg Police Department. With the three, at least 20 cases have occurred in the last five weeks, Nangle said.
The police department has received a lot of information in the past five weeks, said Parkersburg Police Chief Joseph Martin. Evidence has been collected from several of the residences, and sent for testing at the state forensics lab for testing, Martin said.
The department has a few persons of interest, but have not identified a suspect, Martin said.
"We have been putting out extra patrols and using overtime in order to bring this to a close," Martin said. "We have officers working to identify people on the streets in the targeted parts of the city and we will continue to have an increased presence until arrests are made in this case."
Several incidents have occurred in other areas, but most of the burglaries have been north of 23rd Street in Parkersburg, Nangle said.
Just The Facts
* 20 homes ransacked in five weeks.
* Only small items stolen: cash, jewelry, guns.
* Extra patrols on the streets hunting for the culprit.
* Suspects knocking on doors to case a house.
* Keep doors and windows locked at all times.
* Neighbors need to look out for each other.
* Immediately report activity to 911 or 304-424-8444.
Among popular areas are James Street, Morningside Drive, Morningside Circle, Cadillac Drive, Foley Drive, Foley Avenue, Packard Street, Woodland Park, Fairview Heights and around Hamilton Middle School, Nangle said.
The addresses have not been released to avoid publicizing the homes of elderly citizens, Nangle said.
Many of the cases are being reported days or weeks after the burglary was committed, Nangle said. Residents are away for lengthy times and the incidents aren't reported until they arrive home, he said.
The homes being targeted are in upscale neighborhoods, Nangle said. The homes are vacant or have elderly residents, he said.
"Many of the homes belong to people who have left West Virginia for the winter," Nangle said. "People are returning home to discover their house has been ransacked," he said.
To catch the culprits, everyone in Parkersburg needs to work together and be vigilant, Martin said.
"Neighbors need to be vigilant and look out for each other," Martin said. "Any suspicious activity in your neighborhood should be reported to the police immediately," he said.
Anyone with information regarding one of these burglaries should immediately call 304-424-8444, Martin said. They also can leave an anonymous tip at parkersburgpolice.com.
Call 911 if it's suspected a burglary is in progress, Martin said.
Items being stolen are small enough to carry or place in a backpack, Nangle said. Jewelry, cash, and hand guns have been the most popular items stolen, he said.
Nothing has been stolen in some cases, but the house has been ransacked nonetheless, Nangle said.
He believes the culprit is stealing items to pay for an addiction.
"There is a good chance the person doing this is on drugs," Nangle said.
Residents are warned to keep their doors and windows locked, even during the day, Nangle said.
Police believe that the culprit is going door-to-door, knocking to see if anyone is at home, during the day and late at night, often between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., Nangle said.
When the door is not answered, the home is marked as a potential target, Nangle said. In some cases, the person knocking then tries the door and tries windows to see if they are unlocked, Nangle said.
The culprit uses several stories if anyone answers, Nangle said. At night, the person asks for someone by name, Nangle said.
During the day, the person is often seen with a clip board in hand, Nangle said. When the door is answered, the person claims to be with an air quality control company and asks to enter the residence to test the air inside, Nangle said.
Do not to allow anyone inside who does not appear to be professional and who is not expected through an appointment, Nangle said.
If someone knocks and asks to enter, home, check for a company vehicle nearby, Nangle said.
If the person appears suspicious in any way, call 911 immediately and report the person, Nangle said.
If someone knocks on your door at night, do not open the door, Nangle said. When residents wait to call about the situation, the person has time to flee the area, Nangle said.
"We can only get to the area in time to find the person knocking on doors if that person's behavior is reported immediately," Nangle said.
Residents should immediately turn on the porch light and see if they recognize the person knocking, Nangle said. If they do not recognize the person, do not open the door, but note what they can about the person, he said.
Immediately call the police at night, too, Nangle said.
Regardless of the time someone knocks, everyone needs to make an effort to show they are home, Nangle said. This can be as simple as turning on the lights or pulling back a curtain, Nangle said.