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Residents worry about 'crime wave'

Despite citizens' fears, officials say there's no spike in break-ins
By: Laura Newell, Telegraph Staff Writer
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As local communities continue to grow, residents are left wondering what happened to their little towns as recent burglaries have many fearful for their safety. Marky Gard has lived in Folsom since 1959 and said a recent string of burglaries affected her friends in broad daylight. “Right around the corner, there is a house for sale and when the Realtors tried to turn on the air conditioner, it didn’t work,” Gard said. “So, they went outside and found the copper pipes had been cut away and stolen.” Officer Jason Browning, with the Folsom Police Department, said home and car burglary is not on the rise. “I don’t see anything that is outside of the normal,” Browning said. “Normal is two to three (crimes) a day in Folsom.” He said on average, there are more car burglaries than home because thieves are interested in a quick theft. Lt. Bryan Golmitz, with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s office, said it is always a good idea to keep doors locked, windows up and valuables out of sight when parking your car. “When at home, park in garages, driveways or lighted areas,” Golmitz said. “Remove all valuable items from your car. Put all electronics (GPS, iPod, etc.) in the glove box or a gym bag. It takes a thief 20 seconds to get something and then walk away with a gift.” Still, home thefts occur in the areas. “Many of our calls are for residents who leave their garage, side door or windows open and thieves can easily go in and out of a house,” he said. “Bicycles are a common item stolen because Folsom is a well-known bicycle community.” Erin Andreatta works as a sales person at Bicycles Plus in Folsom, and said bicycles are definitely a continuing theft in town. “Recently I had one of our clients come in and report that his bike was stolen out of his garage,” Andreatta said. “Then a little while later, he found it for sale on Craig’s List (an online website). People want to steal bikes for resale.” She said every bicycle sold from the shop has a serial number included for safety reasons against theft. She said this summer, she has had about two bicycles a month reported stolen to the store. “Some common sense things are what can help,” Browning said. “If you leave things open for people to see in plain view, they are more likely to break in and steal something.” Golmitz said crime in El Dorado Hills is comparable to Folsom with the exception that it is a lot smaller in size. “It goes up and down. We go in spurts,” Golmitz said. He said many times, residential burglaries will get hit in clusters with nine or 10 burglaries at a time. But, he said there are more car-related burglaries than home burglaries. “In Folsom, many causes of home burglaries are relating to relatives of the occupants in the home,” Browning said. “But this is not always the case.” Golmitz said he would expand that group to relatives, friends or associates of home occupants. Browning said crimes are often drug related with relatives going into the house knowing what they want to take prior to the burglary. “If anything looks funny or out of the norm, I prefer that you call us and have us come out to look everything over before something bad happens,” Browning said. Golmitz said communities also work well in groups for quick protection. “For me, I think strong neighborhood watch programs are important,” Golmitz said. “Small units can work together with communication to prevent suspicious cars or people. Everyone can look out for each other.” John Mouritsen, 58, moved to El Dorado Hills in 1989 and said he feels safe in his community. “People seem to kind of watch over each other and people are aware of their neighborhoods and watch over each other’s stuff,” Mouritsen said. Browning said police departments also offer vacation checks to houses. Police volunteers visit homes periodically during the occupants’ vacation to see if anything at the home looks out of the normal. Still, Gard said she does not feel safe in her Folsom house. “I lock my house up at all times,” Gard said. “Due to recent burglaries in the daytime, sometimes locking your door isn’t enough. People should be aware.” Browning and Golmitz said the safest practice in preventing home and car thefts is to always lock all doors at all times, keep windows locked and keep valuables out of view. “We used to be a small town, but now look at us,” Gard said. “When I lived here in the ‘60s we never locked our doors. We are not the small town Folsom anymore.”