Historic district burglaries prompt meeting

Tom and Lyn Miller of Summerville take a morning walk along Rutherford Street in the historic district Saturday. The Millers said the break-ins have made them more cautious. They said they have friends whose homes have been burglarized recently.

— Residents of the town’s historic district are worried after a rash of home break-ins, often during daylight and sometimes while residents were home.

Nearly two months after police say the series of brazen burglaries tapered off, no arrests have been made. Residents are giving up hope of recovering anything they lost, and many fear the burglaries are continuing.

Police Capt. John Rogers provided reports for 10 home burglaries in the historic district around Azalea Park during December and January but only one in that area since the middle of January.

Residents who have been posting on a Facebook page insist that at least four other houses have been broken into in the past month. They have set up a meeting Tuesday night with police to find out what’s been going on and what can be done about it.

“I would have thought they would have quite a few reports from early March,” resident Kelley Plumpton Johnson said. “I can’t understand why they wouldn’t.”

Rogers said he found a report for March 17 on South Hickory Street. The resident got home from work in the afternoon and found that the rear deck door had been forced open with a pair of gardening shears. Two pistols, three Tag Heuer watches, $900 cash and prescription pain pills were reported stolen. Officers found pieces of the garden shears and footprints in the pollen on the front porch, according to the incident report.

The last break-in reported before that was Jan. 14 on South Main Street, Rogers said. Somebody forced open the front door, rummaged through drawers and made off with about $1,000 worth of jewelry, according to a report.

Police increased their presence in the area, including unmarked cars, and asked residents to lock their doors, install alarms and report anything suspicious, Rogers said.

Heather Sullivan started the invitation-only Facebook page.

“It did seem like things quieted down for a while, then suddenly within the last two weeks activity has picked up again,” she said.

Residents say that besides the Jan. 14 break-in on South Hickory Street, there were at least four others in the last month — on Rutherford Street, Laurel Street, Sumter Avenue and Simmons Avenue. Residents were not able to provide confirmation this week for any of the incidents besides the one on Rutherford.

The incident on Rutherford was a joy ride in an unlocked car, which was left in a driveway on the same street, Rogers said.

George McDaniel, who owns the car that was stolen, said somebody also entered the house and took cash out of wallets and some prescription pills. The incident was not on the level of the earlier break-ins, in which burglars kicked in doors and stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and guns, but was still disturbing.

“It’s a neighborhood where people are always out walking around, which is why you don’t expect this,” he said. “We just want to let the police know of our concerns, and find out what we can do to help.”

McDaniel said he plans to attend Tuesday’s meeting, so he can hear the police department’s side of what’s been happening and see what residents can do to help.

The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at the Cuthbert Community Center.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.