October 17, 2004
A Mesa resident sees a lesson in crime prevention to be learned from a surge in burglaries this summer in his northeast Mesa neighborhood.
There were 27 burglaries reported in July in the Apache Wells area, which is between Higley, Recker, McKellips and McDowell roads. The area usually averages about four burglaries a month.
In response, the Mesa Police Department’s community action and bicycle teams met with homeowners to discuss crime prevention tips, and police began working undercover in the area at night.
"A lot of our victims were winter visitors, and it was pretty obvious the homes were vacant," said officer Robert Gates, a community action team member.
Many departing residents chained their driveways, put foil or cardboard in their windows and turned off their water — sure signals to potential burglars, police said.
Apache Wells resident Bob Devin, 65, says without resident action the area is going to end up like other crime-ridden areas in the Valley.
Only one-tenth of his neighbors attended the meeting with police — many because they didn’t want to believe there was a problem, Devin said.
When people leave town they need to make sure someone is maintaining their yards and removing fliers and telephone books, as well as putting their lights and TVs on timers, he said.
"Don’t cut off your electricity; the small monthly fee is worth the protection," he said.
And ignoring the problem isn’t going to help solve it, he said. "Yes, this is a great place to live and the weather is good, but the area is growing," he said.
No one was ever arrested for the crimes, but in August the number of burglaries dropped to nine, and in September to five.
Crime scene technicians found plenty of fingerprints so there’s the possibility the culprits may someday be apprehended, police said.