Vehicle Vandals Worry Police Chief

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Vehicle break-ins occurred last moth in the DeWitt area. (Photo taken by Zack Peña)

By Luke Ferris Staff Reporter

Multiple vehicle break-ins or police termed “larcenies” have occurred throughout DeWitt Township on Jan. 30 and the city of DeWitt Feb. 1. Both citizens of DeWitt and DeWitt City Police plan to take precautions furthering instances of vehicle larcenies.

On Feb. 1 DeWitt Township Police working with the Clinton County Sheriff Department charged three people involved with the larcenies and efforts are continuing to stop the crimes.

City of DeWitt Police Chief Bruce Ferguson said he has been busy since taking the position on Feb. 1, as most of his time has focused on the crimes

Chief Ferguson said most of the larcenies involved credit or debit cards that are visible in unmonitored vehicles.

“We’re all guilty of it,” Ferguson said. “We can get complacent and we don’t take the precautions we should.”

In one of the cases, a DeWitt resident confronted a burglar and was assaulted, receiving minor injuries. The burglar is facing 20 years on the charge of home invasion.

Citizens must be aware of what they leave in their vehicles when parking on streets.

Citizens must be aware of what they leave in their vehicles when parking on streets. (Photo taken by Zack Peña)

DeWitt, named a finalists in 2005 for CNN Money’s Best Places to Live, is not an area known for what Ferguson describes as “a mini crime wave”.

“If [criminals] are successful in an area, of course they are going to keep working it,” Ferguson said. “Naturally they are going to go to an area that pays for them.”

According to the 2012 Annual Police Report, in 2011 the City of DeWitt had 32 reports of property crimes. This includes burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson. In the same year, the city of Lansing reported 4,287 property crimes, according to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“For us it’s sporadic,” said Ferguson, describing the recent rise in vehicle larcenies. “For other police agencies it’s apart of their everyday activities.”

Former DeWitt Police Chief and current Clinton County Sheriff Department Undersheriff Larry Jerue said that there was a downward trend in City of DeWitt crime during his final annual report on Jan. 22nd. But Jerue explained that the small amount of crime numbers doesn’t always serve as a concrete explanation of crime frequency.

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Graphic showing property crimes in last 5 years that includes larcenies. (Graph made by Luke Ferris)

“Because there’s no real trend with those numbers [compared to] a larger organization,” Jerue said.

While the crime numbers don’t necessarily give a consistent way to analyze fluctuations, residents of DeWitt may not be used to the recent high rate of larcenies in the area.

Ferguson said it is always important to be aware of your personal belongings, especially in the midst of busy schedules.

“If the opportunity presents itself, [criminals] take advantage of it,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson said the increase use of debit and credit cards can make purchasing things easy for criminals, especially online or at businesses that don’t ask for identification.

“Crime pays temporarily for these people,” Ferguson said. “For us it’s convenient, for criminals it’s opportunity.”

Ferguson said the primary combatant of vehicle larcenies is keeping valuables out of sight.

“If it’s out sight, it’s out of mind,” Ferguson said. “Don’t leave anything of value in your car.”

If you have to leave anything of value in a vehicle Ferguson said lock the items in a trunk or confined cabinet.

“I don’t remember ever having a vehicle larceny from a trunk,” Ferguson said.

Along with increased citizen precautions, Ferguson and the police department are continuing to keep businesses in the area aware of the recent larcenies.

“We can tell [businesses], ‘This is what the bad guys are doing, if you see anything give us a heads up,’” Ferguson said.

In collaboration with Clinton County Sheriff Department, Ferguson said the investigations are going efficiently.

“We work well together,” Ferguson said. “That’s what broke these cases forth, because everyone works well together.”

If any citizens witness a vehicle larceny, immediately call 9-1-1 or contact the city of Dewitt Police Department at  (517) 669-9131.


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