Police: Burglaries up for ’08

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Raymond Anaya and his daughter, Josett Anaya, of Clovis, search the paper for an apartment for Josett. Josett moved back into her parents house because her home has been burglarized twice in the last two months and everything she owned was taken.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

One burglary was upsetting.

Two in a month was enough to make one Clovis father pack up his daughter’s belongings and move her back home.

Retiree Raymond Anaya found it even more shocking the vandalism and thefts were happening in what he described as a, “very low-income neighborhood,” where the majority of the residents live modest lives.

“It’s not their fault, they do what they can with what they’ve got,” said Anaya. “It’s just the wrong side of the tracks,” he said of the 300 block of Ash Street where his daughter was renting.

Burglaries in Clovis jumped about 16 percent in 2008 but appear to be trending downward in this, the first part of the years, according to statistics provided by police.

The data evaluated includes burglaries of homes and businesses as well as autos.

Anaya’s daughter was victimized in December and early this year while she was away and he was watching her home.

Between the two burglaries, the thieves took everything from his daughter’s bed to her TV, DVD player, microwave and even clothing.

“They left a few rags on the floor scattered. They took clothes, stuff that they considered of value,” he said.

“I still am (surprised) at the poor robbing the poor bit… If I was going (to do it) instead of getting me a Ford, I’d go for a Cadillac.”

The retired father said he moved his daughter back into his home, put what was left of her belongings in storage and is trying to help 27-year-old Josett Anaya find a rental in a better neighborhood with more safety.

“Until she gets an apartment of her own… Preferably what we consider safe… She’ll be living with me,” he said.

Ironically, Clovis police see a higher instance of burglaries in lower income neighborhoods and those citizens with limited resources are often preyed upon, according to police Capt. Patrick Whitney.

“Like any other crime, they look for victims of opportunity,” Whitney said.

With lower income residences, it is less likely that there are neighborhood watch groups, alarms systems, solid doors and deadbolts.

“(Burglars) are more likely to go after that house (because in areas where homes are more secure), it’s more work and the more time it takes them the more chance that they’re going to get caught and the more noise they’re going to make,” Whitney said.

Though in the end, “the fact is, if somebody really wants to get in, they’re going to,” Whitney said.

Burglaries often come in spurts, Whitney said, and frequently multiple cases are tied to a single suspect or group of suspects acting together.

And the variables that drive burglaries are many, making it difficult to explain the fluctuations, Whitney said.

In 2005, for instance, burglaries were four percent higher than last year’s and in the past six years, burglary numbers have stayed fairly stable without any significant peaks or lows.

Yet for the first two weeks in January, burglaries were down to 12 from 28 burglaries reported during the same period in 2008.

“These numbers do not give insight into the numerous variables that mold a given set of numbers for an entire year’s span of time,” Whitney said. “In particular, burglaries are subject to radical swings.”

Drug use in the community, the time of year, suspects who come in from outside the area to commit crimes or the length of time it takes to make arrests and put an end to a string of burglaries are all factors that effect the statistics, Whitney said.

Case in point, in December there was a spike in the numbers when police said a Hereford man committed at least two dozen auto burglaries in one day in parking lots along North Prince Street before he was arrested.

Burglaries are one of the most difficult cases for detectives to solve, Whitney said, explaining, “you don’t have any witnesses and you’re just trying to track the (method of operation),” or hoping some evidence like finger prints or blood at the scene will shed light on the case.

To be successful in solving and preventing burglaries, “(residents) have got to do their part and we (the police) have our part,” Whitney said.

Reporting suspicious activity, organizing neighborhood watches and securing homes to remove opportunity are all things residents can do to curb burglaries, he said.

Anaya is sympathetic to the plight of detectives who are trying to solve burglaries.

In his daughter’s cases, the burglars broke through a back door which faces an abandoned house and carried her belongings out without being seen by neighbors.

“There’s nothing you can do unless you have a witness and I understand that,” he said.

After the first burglary, Anaya said his family, “did what little we could,” and repaired the door and made sure the windows were locked. But it wasn’t enough to deter the second burglary.

“Robbing anybody is bad enough as it is, rich or poor,” he said, but it stings a little more when the victim is already fighting the odds.

Clovis burglaries:

2008 – 625

2007 – 526

2006 – 549

2005 – 653

2004 – 619

2003 – 570