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Burglaries plaguing Mexico
MEXICO -- Since June, Mexico Police Lt. Roy Hodsdon said burglaries in this community have reached epidemic proportions.
On Friday, there was a burglary on Howard Street. Electronics were taken. Joe Bruns posted on Facebook that thieves took a 47-inch TV, X-Box, .38 special revolver, grenade launcher rounds, 20 pounds of high explosive tannerite exploding target mix, a laptop and $50 in change. There were two on Whitman Street where electronics were taken. Cross Street, electronics were taken while the owner was at work during the day.
There was one on Highland Terrace with electronics taken while the elderly couple was sleeping. There was one on Sun Valley Circle, where a flat screen TV and some food was taken, and they smashed a VCR. On Osgood Avenue, a washer was taken and all the copper was taken out of the basement.
Hodsdon said vacant or foreclosed homes are also being targeted for their copper. "So if neighbors are seeing people at these residences, they need to call us if they see people snooping around, cause on Granite Street, it was over three grand of copper taken out of that place.
There was also a burglary at the old St. Mary's Clinic on Porter Bridge where copper was taken, but Hodsdon said they've charged someone for that.
Andy Dupuis Salvage has been broken into twice. The first time, "tens of thousands of dollars" of hand tools was taken, along with "a couple grand worth of cash. They hit him again for more cash."
Morrison Motors, "they broke into his place, more tools. He had an alarm. They (burglars) were so brazen, they turned the scanner up, knowing where we were at before they left because they were in there for awhile, with what they left for evidence. Then they heard we'd be out and they went out the back."
Ta-Dah's was broken into where they took some cash.
Hodsdon said there's been a couple of car burglaries. A four-wheeler and a bicycle were taken, but they were recovered in the woods.
These burglars are targeting high ticket items. "They're usually going after the electronic -- the TVs, the X-Boxes, laptops -- quick sale items they can turn (into cash)," he noted.
"Crime is hitting rampant in Mexico. It's rampant everywhere. It's an epidemic and it's becoming worse," said Hodsdon.
"We're talking about tens of thousands of dollars in stolen items. I haven't found anything. Nothing. On my time off, I'm checking Craig's List, Uncle Henry's, just because I don't have time when I'm here because I'm following up on the other leads," said Hodsdon, adding that about 20 percent of the items taken can be identified because the owner knows the serial numbers.
A real concern in this is that the thieves have now stolen guns. "It heightens us because now we're dealing with people who are taking up a level. Why are they stealing the guns? Are they stealing the guns to sell or are they stealing the guns to arm themselves?"
Hodsdon said, "In June, someone went into a house and stole electronics while an elderly couple was sleeping. That scares me because now you're taking it to the level of, what if those people had woke up? Could someone have got hurt or killed? Absolutely. I've heard it more than once. 'They'd better not do it while I'm home.'"
Hodsdon said people need to make their homes and cars are locked up, put security lights up. Use outside lighting.
He said these thieves know what they're doing. "Lots of times when you go and catch a burglar who has done it one or two times, they're in and out. When they go through every cabinet, every draw, every ounce of your house, they feel secure. Do they have lookouts? Who knows? They obviously feel comfortable enough to do this and that they're not going to get caught."
Hodsdon said this is as bad as he has seen a crime spree in his 15 years with the department. "I just did the figures since 2002 for the selectmen's meeting and the trend was gradually going up, but now it's kind of like spiking in the last few years."
He said they've had 33 burglaries this year. They had 50 all of 2012, which he said was a lot. "We've averaged 20 to 25 a year. We also had 198 thefts last year."
Asked about the high number of burglaries in the River Valley since the start of the year, Hodsdon said, "I'm going to say that there's a really strong possibility that these (burglaries in Mexico) are linked to other communities. We've been fortunate in some of our burglaries that we were able to get some evidence and catch people, but unfortunately, everytime we catch a burgary, we do educate them and tell them what we did to catch them, he said, adding with sarcasm, "So we're educating them for their next one."
An example of this education includes, "Rainy days are most of our burglaries now because we were going after foot prints. Now they're going on rainy days and it's washed them (foot prints) away," he said.
"I don't think they're doing it to get rich. They don't want to work. They don't have a job. They're stealing to provide for their drug habit. Heroin is the area, and it's one of those addicting drugs -- they need their fix and have to keep stealing, stealing, stealing," said Hodsdon.
"Talking to other agencies, I do think they're related. They are all similar. Copper has been stolen in several towns, ours included, from residences. The MO (mode of operation) would be the same, how they're getting in in a lot of them. I don't think they're targeting Mexico. I think they're targeting the area," he said.
Hodsdon said there's a possibility that these people are "local to the area. I get some intel from Jay and other agencies and they've had similar type stuff. So are they traveling? I don't know."
"You're always waiting for one clue, one piece of that puzzle, to get you started. We've been beating on doors...Someone has seen something who can come forward and talk to us. Anonymous, whatever it is," he said, adding that the best way, anonymously, to call with information is to call the Sheriff's Office at 1-800-733-1421, and ask for Roy Hodsdon.
"If people are going to post something on Facebook (regarding the burglaries), message it to us so it is private, so that other people can't see it, or just call us," he said.
By noting on public, such as the Mexico Police Facebook page, Hodsdon noted, "If we're looking at it, the suspects are looking at it to see what we have on them. So that could hinder our investigation because they know we're on to them. If someone posted something, they might say they don't care, but maybe these people go target them for saying something, knowing who they are know, and could get to them and threaten them. It happens."
"We appreciate all the tips. We put it out on Facebook. It's a great tool. You just need to be careful what you post on Facebook, if it's where everyone can see it," he said.
To date, Hodsdon said they've gotten a few calls, but all were came to a dead end.
"I still think this is a safe community, but you've got a group of individuals out here whose hitting us tonight, hitting Rumford tomorrow, hitting Peru the next night, who knows. But they are hitting us. I think the big thing is that we're doing our best. We're devoting every resource. There will be an intel sharing meeting coming up with other agencies to share what we have," he said.
Education is a big part with this. "We'd like to have some help with it so we can solve this," said Hodsdon.
Neighborhood watch groups requested
by Bruce Farrin
MEXICO -- With the growing number of burglaries over the last two years, an effort will be launched by early August to establish neighborhood watch groups, particularly in areas that are being victimized the most.
Mexico Police Lt. Roy Hodsdon said, "I'm really asking the community for help on this. This is becoming an epidemic. It's overwhelming and it's hitting our community hard. When you have to go to places that got hit more than once, it's hard going through that front door to the people because you have no answers. You've followed up on every lead you can. You've checked every pawn shop you can. You've rattled every door that you can that you're used to dealing with and you're not getting anything."
"We want to start a neighborhood watch program for certain areas of our town. We think that would really be a key. We've posted on our Facebook several times asking for people for their help," he said.
The areas Hodsdon like to see neighborhood watch groups would be Zone I (Middle, Kimball, Porter, Osgood), Zone II (Fourt, Fifth, Howard) and Zone III (Granite, Main).
"The more people, the better. With the community's help, with just a phone call, it would be a huge asset. People are seeing these people out there," he said.
"We want to have a public meeting (by early August), get some groups together, bring in some guest speakers who deal with this and have had success," said Hodsdon, adding it would take place in the Mexico Lions conference room, located beside the police department.
He noted that the average person is not going to go break into someone's house because they don't see a vehicle in the yard.
"These people are obviously watching patterns, watching people's habits and they know. When someone goes to work at 6 a.m. and returns at 8 that night and their house got broken into, someone's watching your house. "
"I put on the Facebook page that if you see anything suspicious, call us. They need to call us. That's what we get paid to do. We get paid to look in the area. If we don't know, we're not going to see them because when you're riding down the road and it's dark, they see your headlights coming, they ditch behind the house, hide behind a car. But people looking at their windows or whatever might see something and that might be the clue that we need," said Hodsdon.