By MARK J. MILLER
BLOOMINGDALE - A flurry of vehicle break-ins in the past two weeks has personnel at the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department scratching their heads and looking for witnesses.
At least 23 vehicles have been broken into during a rash of break-ins, mostly centered around the state Route 152 area. Items taken range from loose change to guns, and there were at least 16 reported break-ins last week with another seven Friday night, according to Sheriff Fred Abdalla.
"We have no idea (who's behind this)," said Abdalla, adding no witnesses have yet come forward. "We thought we had a suspect, but we now know he's not suspected (for these break-ins). We've increased our patrols in the area."
Abdalla said what was especially puzzling was that so far no one in the area has heard glass breaking or anything unusual. The break-ins are occurring during the evening and early morning hours and being discovered by residents in the morning, according to sheriff's reports.
"These people (breaking into vehicles) are responsible for a lot of damage," continued the sheriff, adding he needs the public's help to arrest those responsible. "We are asking people to please give us a call if they hear anything unusual - a dog barking, or any noise. We've had people tell us they were up all night but didn't hear anything."
There is a pattern in the reports in that unlocked vehicles appear to have been ransacked, according to witnesses. Others with locked doors report broken windows, supposedly by the perpetrators.
Items stolen from vehicles include credit cards, money, purses and other valuables. Abdalla asked residents in the area to keep anything of value out of their vehicles.
"I also encourage people not to leave their valuables in their cars," he said. "Don't make it easy for people to get into your cars. We're trying to apprehend them."
Anyone with information is asked to call the sherriff's department, at (740) 283-8600.