ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- There's been a big focus on murders and shootings in Rockford lately, but property crimes are a big problem as well. Tonight we learn more about burglaries, who's committing them, what police are doing about it, and how we can protect our homes.
Leslie Hamilton says she knew something was wrong one day last summer when her dog started barking. The next thing she knew, burglars were in her home.
“And they are right here by this high chair staring at me and they immediately put their hands up like they didn't do it and bolted out my side door all while I'm on the phone with 911,” she said.
It happened in broad daylight – 3:30 in the afternoon, which according to police, isn't uncommon.
"Burglars like to operate at nighttime but we've had some of them occur during daylight hours because people are not at home, they're at work," Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson, said.
Epperson says burglaries are one of the most common property crimes facing the department. This year they're down 10 percent compared to 2012, but from May to June, burglaries spiked 32 percent. Many of those happened down the street from Hamilton in the Rolling Green neighborhood. Epperson says it’s common for thieves to hit up the same area over and over.
“They just become familiar. We've had many burglars who have committed burglaries who have gone to the department of corrections and they turn right back around and they go right back in the same area that they burglarized before going to prison,” he said.
Epperson says most burglars are professional thieves, ranging in age from late 20's to 40's. Instead of breaking into one or two homes, they hit up dozens. Sometimes it’s to get money for drugs, for others it's for the thrill.
“You can just be a professional thief and so we've also had those here over the years,” Chief Epperson said.
Officers are doing more stakeouts and patrolling areas like the Rolling Green neighborhood that have seen a rise in burglaries. There are also things we can do to make sure we don't fall victim, like locking doors and windows, adding motion lights around the house, and putting security signs around the house.
Those are all things the Hamilton’s have now along with this added advice.
“You don't expect it, I didn't expect it. Just be alert,” Hamilton said.
Shoplifting is a big problem. It's up four percent from the same time last year and that's a problem all over the city. It's not confined to just one area.
ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Rockford Police are doing more stakeouts after a rash of burglaries in one southeast side neighborhood.
Burglary is one of the biggest problems. In June, 177 homes were broken into, that’s a 32% increase from the month before.
Most of those happened here, in the Rolling Green neighborhood. The Police Department says burglars were looking for copper. They did catch the thieves but it’s an ongoing problem across the city. Chief Epperson says many of the burglars are older, in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s and many times take the goods to get money for drugs.
“Burglars can yes be fueled by drugs and some of them are just for the thrill of it to be a known burglar, so if you’re a burglar doesn’t mean you’re a drug addict, you can just be a professional thief so we’ve also had those here over the years,” said Chief Chet Epperson.
Officers are doing more stakeouts in areas like Rolling Green to keep the criminals away.
We’re told many burglaries happen during the day. They usually knock on the door to make sure no one’s home then break in. Usually homeowners and neighbors are at work.