Mount Horeb community on edge after rash of overnight break-ins

MOUNT HOREB (WKOW) -- A community is on edge after a rash of home break-ins. It happened overnight Wednesday in the town of Mount Horeb. The burglars not only stole property, but also the community's feeling of security.

“Very quiet, lots of children. Really peaceful. Never seen any problems," said Natalie Meyers, who has lived in the area of the break-ins for about 2 years.

She was shocked to hear about home break-ins.

“It's such a nice neighborhood. And I've never heard of any issues here at all,” she said.

Three homes were broken into and two cars stolen in the western part of town.

“Sometime in the evening hours last night 31st of May 2018, at least three residences were entered by unknown persons and property was taken from those residents,” said Mount Horeb Chief of Police Jeff Veloff. “In addition, two vehicles were stolen. One of the stolen vehicles was recovered about a block or two away from where it was stolen from. And the other vehicle has not been recovered at this point.”

“The vehicles were unlocked. And in the stolen vehicle's case, keys for the vehicle were left in them. They enter the residences either through an open garage door, unlocked front door, or by using the garage door opener in the vehicle that was unlocked,” he said.

Veloff said a rash of break-ins like this is unusual in Mount Horeb.

“We do have the occasional entry into vehicles, where property is stolen from the vehicle, generally overnight. We do not have a lot of burglaries and we don’t have a lot of vehicle thefts,” Veloff said. “Another thing that we don’t see every day that occurred with these is the suspects took garage door openers with them, which generally doesn’t happen. So I don’t know if there’s a way that they’re going to reprogram them or something. I don’t know. Potentially they could try to come back to the same places again. And they also stole keys out of unlocked cars, but they didn’t steal the cars. We’re going to check with other communities to see if this is the same type of MOs that people are using in their communities,” he said.

Even more frightening, the burglars were inside at least one house while the family was home.

“I would've been terrified and freaked out big time. I mean that's just scary. Especially if there are children in the home. I would just feel like I couldn't protect my own children,” Meyers said.

“The very concerning thing to us is that when these occupied residential burglaries take place at night, obviously there’s residences there that may wake up and confront the offenders. And property crimes are serious incidents. But if the person were to be involved in an altercation, then obviously that would be a much more serious event. And we certainly want to avoid that from happening,” Veloff said.

“Anytime there is an occupied residence, there is the potential for an altercation, there is the potential for kids waking up and being involved in something that can be traumatic to them,” he said.

Meyers doesn't generally leave her house unlocked. But after hearing about these break-ins, she going to be extra vigilant.

“Definitely keep my house locked. Make sure we have our security on. Pass the word and say please lock your doors. I mean, that's the best we can do and hope for the best,” she said.

Veloff wants to remind people in the community to keep their homes and cars locked, especially at night, to minimize the chance of becoming a victim to this type of crime.

“No community is immune, from property crime especially. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a very small, rural community or the city of Madison, or somewhere in between. There are people looking to exploit opportunities that present themselves by unlocked vehicles, unlocked homes,” Veloff said.

He said they are stepping patrols throughout the town.

Police don't have any suspects, but Veloff said they are trying to retrieve security footage from a neighbor camera that may help them solve the crime.

In Waunakee, police are investigating similar thefts from a week ago.  Thefts were reported at five homes and three vehicles were stolen. 

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