BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – It’s a fairly common theme in Fort Madison and other communities this time of year.
The day turns darker sooner, the holidays are around the corner, and people are looking for opportunities to swipe others’ valuables.
This weekend, Fort Madison Police arrested a juvenile in connection with a yet undetermined number of thefts from vehicles in a seven to eight block area of avenues E and F between the 1000 and 1800 blocks.
“An officer found someone in the area matching a description given by a resident and apprehended the juvenile suspect,” said Fort Madison Police Chief Mark Rohloff.
“He was found to have a number of loose items that he eventually admitted to pilfering from cars in the neighborhood.”
Rohloff said with all the recent publicity surrounding the vehicle thefts that the department is now receiving a lot of calls from people who have checked their cars and found missing items.
“We don’t know at this point if everything is attributable to this one person,” Rohloff said.
He said people need to be vigilant about locking up their vehicles and not leaving anything of value in their cars that can be seen.
“Lock ’em up. Take care of your stuff by bringing it inside or locking it in the trunk,” he said. “Most of these are crimes of opportunity but occasionally you will see the smash and grab if someone sees a checkbook or wallet in the car. Then we get the call of the broken window.”
Typically arrests for these types of crimes are juveniles, Rohloff said and the suspects walk down the street and just try door handles until they find an open vehicle. He said the crimes aren’t done with much forethought, the kids are just out because it gets darker earlier.
He said this past arrest was for criminal activity that took place about 8:30 p.m.
Rohloff said this is also a good chance to highlight the city’s Neighborhood Watch programs. He said monitoring those Facebook sites can help alert residents to mischievous activity in their area.
“These folks are doing a great job and providing preventative measures and observations that are as good of a deterrent as a marked cruiser in the neighborhood,” he said.
“You don’t see these kinds of efforts in stats or arrests, but they are a very good tool to have in our city.”