About the burglary numbers
Check the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Reports, and it might at first seem shocking that about 500 burglaries are reported annually in Lawrence. However, that number includes burglaries from buildings and vehicles, not just homes. And police don’t break burglary statistics down any further, so it’s not known how many home burglaries actually occur in Lawrence every year.
Lawrence Police Sgt. Trent McKinley said that during his department’s investigation and study into the recent home burglaries, even figuring out which crimes to include can be tricky.
“It kind of depends,” he said, citing a wide variety of variables in such crimes. However, McKinley said their focus is on the crimes where someone is home during the crime, and there’s “an extremely high possibility of a confrontation.”
Currently, McKinley said the department is clustering about 50 home burglaries over the past three and a half months into its study and focus. The Journal-World, though, has reported only on 17 of those crimes.
McKinley reviewed the Journal-World’s list and said it’s a “sampling” of the recent rash of burglaries, but certainly not all of the crimes. McKinley said the department would be open to working with the Journal-World in the future to figure out a way that our coverage would be more inclusive of the true scope of the recent burglary spike.
Prowlers, burglars, sneak thieves and housebreakers have sneaked in through back doors, glass doors, garage doors. They’ve stolen guns, money, other valuables, and sometimes nothing, during a recent rise in such crimes in Lawrence.
They’ve been scared off by awakened and frightened residents, or have come and gone while homeowners soundly slept.
Arrests have been made, as have warnings by police. But three months later, the home burglaries haven’t let up.
The Journal-World tallied up the cases we’ve reported on since the reports began coming in, starting May 11, when a resident in the 4700 block of Ranch Court woke up in the middle of the night to find an intruder in the home.
Between then and last week, that includes 17 home burglaries.
We entered the cases into a database and mapped them out, looking for patterns. Here’s what we found:
• The cases were scattered throughout Lawrence, but a couple of the burglaries were reported on the same block.
• In 13 cases, residents woke up during the burglary and the suspect fled.
• In five cases, property was stolen, including one burglary in which two handguns were taken.
• In four cases, residents reported leaving a back door, sliding glass door or garage door open.
But Lawrence Police Sgt. Trent McKinley said the recent rise in home burglaries hasn’t followed a strict method or pattern.
“It has really gone in different directions,” he said.
Some of the crimes in early May seemed to be the work of one suspect who would sneak in through an unlocked door. But after several arrests, the burglaries continued, and suspect descriptions varied, he said.
“Everyone wants to package this so neat,” McKinley said.
Some of the more recent burglaries have varied from those earlier this summer, he said, including suspects who have been breaking doors or windows, contrary to methods from earlier crimes.
And police will be thrown another curve ball, as students begin the trek back to Lawrence this week and next.
“How’s that going to change things?” McKinley said. The extra foot traffic at later hours of the night might deter burglars, or the dynamic of new students in town could lead to fewer locked doors as multiple roommates enter homes and apartments.
McKinley said the police have been dedicating significant resources to the crimes, collecting evidence and trying to link those crimes with similar patterns. But he advised Lawrence residents to continue enhanced safety measures around their homes, such as keeping exterior lights on, considering keeping windows closed and locked, or installing alarm systems.
“People absolutely need to keep vigilant,” he said.
Seven people have been arrested in connection with five of the burglaries. Here’s a recap of those cases:
• A resident in the 3400 block of Augusta Street found a man in her home shortly after midnight on June 9. The suspect fled but was arrested minutes later and identified as 32-year-old Lawrence man William Washington, who was charged with several crimes. Washington has been charged, and his case is still pending.
• Several items were stolen from a vehicle in a garage at a home in the 1600 block of Matthew Terrace about 11 p.m. June 25. Shortly after the theft, Eudora Police responded to a shoplifting call and discovered several of the stolen items in a suspect’s car. Three men were arrested, but only Alexander McKinsey, 19, of Lawrence, was charged, and his case is still pending in the courts.
• A suspect entered a home on Northwood Lane about 4 a.m. July 31. The resident woke up to see the suspect fleeing. Shortly after, a suspect tried unsuccessfully to enter another home on Northwood Lane. Around 6 a.m., police responded to a burglary in progress on Woodlawn Drive and arrested 31-year-old Lawrence man Ronald Kenneth Brooks Jr. Douglas County prosecutors charged Brooks with two counts of aggravated burglary, and he’s scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.