Ypsilanti police ask residents to stay alert as home invasions increase this summer
When Kimberly Wilcox returned from work to her Normal Park neighborhood home in Ypsilanti, she was horrified at what she discovered.
Her house, which is at a busy intersection near Estabrook Elementary School was not locked up as she had left it. The garage door was open, the breezeway was open and she then discovered her front door was also hanging open.
This all happened while she was at work, and thieves nabbed her jewelry, two computers, iPads, a television and more.
“We were shocked,” said Wilcox, who has lived at the house with her husband for 12 years after moving here from Chicago.
The break-in is part of an uptick in home invasions Ypsilanti has seen during the summer months. Police handled 27 break-ins total in July, which is up by 10 from July of last year, and 25 in June.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Among those who have had their homes broken into were Ypsilanti City Council Member Dan Vogt and Corner Brewery owner and Rene Greff.
Home invasions have been up in the region in general. Pittsfield Township officials have called a meeting to deal with similar issues and Canton has also reported a rise in home invasions. Ann Arbor residents were on high alert over the winter when thieves hit around 100 homes.
Ypsilanti police Lt. Paul DeRitter said most of the break-ins occurred in the northern third of the city, though there were incidents reported all around Ypsilanti.
The department has made 11 arrests in connection with the June and July home invasions, and several suspects were linked to multiple crimes, DeRitter said. Eight break-ins were attempts.
DeRitter said there didn’t appear to be an organized ring committing the burglaries, but he added that isn’t necessary to cause issues in the neighborhood.
“One or two people can cause a huge problem in the area, “ he said.
DeRitter said the suspects have ranged in age from teens to adult felons on parole.
Police have found thieves are forcing doors open, pushing up unlocked windows, pushing screens up on open windows or pushing air conditioners in to gain access to a house.
On many occasion, items have been taken out of homes during daylight hours.
Police say one of the best ways residents can protect their homes is keep an eye out on neighbors’ property.
“One of the things we promote is good communication between neighbors,” DeRitter said. “Look out for your neighbors’ property. Let neighbors know the shifts you work and when you aren’t going to be home.”
“I ask that each resident stay vigilant in their neighborhoods and follow the basic crime prevention measures that each of us can do,” said Ypsilanti police Chief Amy Walker. “If you see or hear anything suspicious call 911.”
DeRitter said house alarms can be a good idea and burglars are usually deterred by dogs. But he underscored the importance of neighbors working as the police and each others’ “eyes and ears.” He said the police department remains in contact with neighborhood and business associations about issue.
Wilcox said she was most upset that she wasn't aware there was an issue.
“I was disturbed by it; being robbed is traumatic thing,” she said. “But why didn’t people know about (the home invasions)?”