During the summer, Lawrence police urged residents to safeguard their homes following a rash of home burglaries. Burglars were brazenly sneaking and breaking into homes all over the city while residents slept.
In May, June and July, such crimes averaged about one per day. But police records show the crimes have slowed down since.
Police reported 93 aggravated home burglaries between May 1 and July 31, but just 45 between August and the end of October.
Lawrence Police Sgt. Trent McKinley says the decrease is probably the result of several factors, such as intense media coverage and heightened public awareness. That’s led to residents taking more precautions, and criminals being scared off by increased police presence.
“I don’t think there are too many people out there who haven’t heard about it,” McKinley said.
Police and prosecutors have also been able to arrest and convict several burglars who were suspected of committing numerous burglaries this summer.
For instance, police arrested a trio of teen burglars — Markcus Sanders, Cody Barnes and Ronnie Taylor — who were all convicted of several burglaries, but were suspected in more that couldn’t be proven.
Then there’s Ronald Brooks, 32, who was convicted on one count of attempted burglary and sentenced to 25 months in prison.
Police suspected Brooks of scores of other crimes. The problem? They couldn’t prove it, said Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson. “We have to go with what we can prove,” Branson said. “There’s only so much that can be done.”
So they made a deal with Brooks, agreeing not to charge him with other crimes as long as he would show detectives the other homes he burglarized. That helped police close 29 other cases.
Though it may not seem fair that someone who burglarized 30 homes only gets charged with one, it’s the reality of prosecuting burglary cases, said McKinley.
But getting the admissions from Brooks on the other cases allows police to close the cases, freeing them up to focus on other crimes, McKinley said.
With so many unknowns out there about those they've arrested, McKinley said it's difficult to provide any sort of clearance rates on the cases from this summer.
Here’s a recap of other burglary arrests since May:
• Markcus Sanders, Ronnie E. Taylor, Cody Barnes: Sanders, 18, pleaded no contest to aggravated burglary and aggravated intimidation of a witness related to the July 15 burglary of a home in the 3900 block of West 10th Place. Four other counts in the case, related to other burglaries in Lawrence, were dismissed. Sanders is scheduled for sentencing Dec. 28.
Taylor, 18, pleaded no contest to one count of aggravated burglary related to a July 12 home invasion in the 1000 block of East 24th Street. Ten other charges in the case were dismissed. He is scheduled for sentencing Dec. 28 as well.
Barnes, 18, pleaded no contest to four charges, including aggravated burglary, two counts of theft and burglary of an automobile. The aggravated burglary charge was related to the July 15 burglary Sanders also pleaded to. Seven additional charges in the case were dismissed. He is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 4.
• Austin Lee Whitebird, 19: Pleaded no contest this month to two aggravated burglary charged for entering two Lawrence homes on Aug. 24. He is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 18.
• Christopher T. Beard, 38: Pleaded no contest to criminal trespass in November for a September incident in which he broke into a residence in the 3000 block of Oxford Road. According to police, the man was intoxicated and entered the home through an unlocked garage door. He has been sentenced to probation.
• William D. Washington, 32: Arrested June 9 and charged in three burglaries; two in the 3400 block of Augusta Drive and one in the 2100 block of Quail Creek Drive. Washington was sent to prison for several Shawnee County convictions, and his local case is pending.
• Kristopher Pete McDonald, 37: Arrested for a July 21 burglary in the 3100 block of Tomahawk Drive. McDonald pleaded no contest to one count of burglary and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 18.
• Michael P. Mason, 19: Charged in a November incident in the 2400 block of Louisiana Street, after a resident woke up to find Mason in their apartment taking items. His next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 19.