Council Addresses Recent Break-ins
A bad economy, the need for drug money and New Martinsville’s charitable treatment of transients may have combined to trigger a spate of residential and commercial break-ins that began, and seemed to have ended, last month.
That was a consensus that emerged from a special meeting at New Martinsville City Hall April 11, hosted for concerned residents by New Martinsville Council’s Police Committee and attended by Chief of Police Tim Cecil and other city officials.
A group of 12 residents told Cecil and others that they not only feared for their safety, but also were disturbed by the absence of any information in the media about the illegal entries. The residents said they were not interested in specifics, but that an alert should have been issued, with a list of precautions citizens could take to defend against a break-in.
Cecil explained that police had a short list of suspects immediately following the first break-in, but did not want to disclose too much about the status of their investigations for fear of causing panic and compromising potential prosecutions.
He added that patrols have been increased, with extra officers on duty during certain hours, some patrolling in civilian vehicles to avoid being identified.
Authorities theorize that the break-ins — five successful and 12 attempted — were committed by persons needing money to buy drugs, which was among the things that were taken during the intrusions.
Other items, such as old coins and digital cameras, were boosted and their proceeds used to buy drugs.
Cecil cautioned that any intruder should be considered dangerous and advised residents to lock their doors and cars, leave lights on and call police immediately if they hear or see anything suspicious in their neighborhoods.
Police Committee Chairman Steve Pallisco noted that most crimes of this nature are solved by information from citizens who report unusual behavior or movement in their neighborhoods, or overhear a perpetrator brag and a break-in.
Following a March 27 break-in at Head Quarters, a family-owned hair care business in Steelton, police had three suspects, one of whom has confessed, Cecil said. He said police found a missing cash register from the business in the home of the suspect. Two other persons suspected in the burglaries remain under investigation and action against them is forthcoming, Cecil said.
Cecil also said polygraph tests have been administered to certain persons of interests, one of whom will be re-tested.
Nothing has been recovered from the break-ins and none are known to have occurred since March 27. However, Pallisco warned that, with spring and summer advancing quickly, there may be additional intrusions.
In addition to making sure homes and cars are locked and leaving lights on, authorities advise residents to stay inside at night and to keep police emergency number close to their telephones.
In addition to Pallisco and Cecil, other city officials who attended the meeting were Councilmen Chris Bachman, Joel Potts and Holly Grandstaff, Mayor Lucille Blum and Recorder Bonnie Shannon.