Sheriff’s Officials Attribute Increase
To Part-time Residents Returning to Area
By Carlos Padilla
The Sierra County Sheriff’s Department has been called to a number of break-ins at vacation homes over the last several weeks.
At first glance, the fact that there have been about a half-dozen of these types of reports made in about as many weeks may alarm local residents who may fear that there is an epidemic occurring locally. However, law enforcement officials are quick to point out that this is simply not the case.
In fact, Sierra County Sheriff’s Lt. Glenn Hamilton and Information Specialist Brad Spencer told The Herald late last week that the reason for the apparent spike actually lies in the fact that the burglaries were committed at vacation homes and storage rental units within the county over an undetermined time span. However, due to part time residents returning to the area in the warmer months, the incoming reports of these crimes have been made in a relatively short amount of time, giving the appearance of a spike in property crime.
“The last time residents have been at these homes was around Labor Day weekend (in 2011),” Lt. Hamilton stated. “Historically, the Sheriff’s Department –as the days become longer and warmer– receives calls from storage units and rental and vacation homes of break-ins.”
This apparent spike is misleading because they could be taking place during the winter months, when these properties are visited less often.
A large majority of residential burglaries, upon investigation, are determined to have been committed by family members or perpetrators who have been in the residence before, according to the Sheriff’s Department officials.
When asked about the apparent clustering of these crimes taking place in around the Elephant Butte area, the officials state that is simply because this is an area with a high density of part time residents.
According to the Sierra County Sheriff’s Department, three burglaries were reported, beginning Feb. 4, followed by a report made Feb. 25, and a third made on Feb. 29. One of the locations was within Elephant Butte city limits, another was in the Hot Springs Landing area, and the other took place in Arrey.
On Friday, March 16, SCSD officials stated that the most recent burglary to be reported took place on March 11. On that date, a neighbor walked past a residence along Ridge Road in the Hot Springs Landing area, and didn’t notice anything wrong with the residence. Several hours later, however, the neighbor noticed that the front door to the home was open, and reported it to authorities. A big-screen TV was reportedly stolen from the residence.
Authorities stated that, in all, the items stolen from area homes and storage yards include a 12-gauge shotgun, a stereo from a boat, several miscellaneous tools, furnishings, and –at one location– the residence was broken into and spray-painted. Severe damage reportedly was inflicted on the structure as well.
Lt. Hamilton advises that residents safeguard their items and to take precautions by marking their items, conducting an inventory of their valuables, including recording the serial numbers of their electronics.
Homeowners are advised to never leave weapons in their homes if they plan an extended absence, and advised homeowners get to know their neighbors and ask neighbors to keep an eye on their property. Keeping vegetation trimmed, allowing law enforcement and neighbors to see all potential entrances to a residence is another recommended deterrent to property crime.
Lt. Hamilton also advised owners invest in hitch locks for the personal watercraft and boats.
The spike in these types of crimes being reported to local law enforcement agencies typically occurs in April and May. This year’s unseasonably warm weather taking place earlier in the year is being cited as one key source in these crimes being reported months earlier this year.