Police arrested six suspects on Wednesday who they believe are responsible for a string of burglaries in Ahwatukee Foothills, and they did it with the help of a neighborhood block watch.
"We're friends, this block is very close," said Christie Ellis, head of the block watch for the block the suspects were caught on. "We all know each other, we know who is supposed to be where and when and we have each other's phone numbers and emails in case something does come up. The gentleman whose house this was, we knew it was not right for teenagers to be walking into his backyard at 11 o'clock in the morning."
Ellis said a neighbor spotted three teenagers walking into a man's backyard near the 16000 block of South 15th Drive in Club West Wednesday morning and right away called that homeowner. When the homeowner said he was not home and was not expecting any workers, 911 was called.
Neighbors watched as two more suspects were dropped off by an SUV and the three already in the yard prepared to break in, Ellis said. When they realized they were being watched, the suspects all ran from the yard and jumped into an SUV. The SUV passed by an officer who happened to be in the area and was able to stop them.
All six occupants in the vehicle, four adults and two juveniles all from south Phoenix, north of South Mountain, were taken into custody, said Detective Jeff Li of the Phoenix Police Department.
Inside the vehicle officers found more than $8,000 worth of stolen property, including a labeled package for an address near the 16000 block of South 3rd Place. At the same time officers found the package and were headed to the residence, there was a call holding on an open door at that residence. Officers responded and the homeowner confirmed he had been the victim of a burglary, Li said. Officers got a search warrant for the SUV and found that all of the property in the vehicle, besides the personal items of the suspects, belonged to the homeowner who was burglarized.
Li said all of the suspects were booked for possession of stolen property, but police are still waiting for finger print analysis to charge them with burglary. Li said there was no reason that they know of for the suspects to be in Ahwatukee. He does not believe these suspects are related to the burglaries that happened just before Christmas, but those burglaries are still under investigation.
Ellis said she's just excited that the neighborhood's block watch could help stop the men before another home was burglarized.
"Block watches work if you practice it," Ellis said. "We know each other, we know when he have new neighbors, we know when we have to update stuff. It's important that we know what's going on, especially for people who work from home a lot, who are home during the day. We're going to be the ones who see things."
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