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Teens busted for village break-ins

Police: Parents watch your kids, residents lock homes & vehicles

September 22, 2010 - Some solid police work and a lucky break ended a rash of break-ins in the Village of Oxford.

"The officers did a phenomenal job," said Acting Police Chief Mike Solwold. "They made this a priority."

A total of nine charges are pending against four male Oxford teenagers – a 15-year-old and three 16-year-olds – who allegedly broke into two village homes and five village vehicles between Aug. 11 and Aug. 24.

"We've had the parents and the kids in here and they were all fully cooperative," said Solwold, noting all four were released to the custody of their parents.

Two of the 16-year-olds are facing one count each of larceny from an automobile. The charges are related to two vehicles they allegedly broke into on Lincoln St. Aug. 24.

One of those 16-year-olds is also being charged with a home invasion that occurred Aug. 23 on Lakes Edge Drive.

The 15-year-old and other 16-year-old are both facing one count each of three charges – larceny from an automobile, home invasion and unlawfully driving an automobile.

Charges pending against these two stem from a home invasion on Thornehill Trail in the Oxford Lakes subdivision.

The teens are also facing charges related to vehicle break-ins in the subdivision, two on Lakes Edge Drive and one on Thornehill Trail.

According to Solwold, after the pair broke into the home on Thornehill Trail, they swiped some car keys off the kitchen counter and took the homeowner's vehicle for a "joy ride."

Police later found the vehicle parked on Woodleigh Way, the next street over.

Ironically, it was an incident completely unrelated to the break-ins that led police to the teens who were allegedly responsible for the crimes.

On Aug.25, the police received a call regarding some bicycles stolen off the front lawn of a Broadway St. residence. An officer soon located the bikes and alleged thieves on Lakeville Rd.

After the officer returned the bikes and brought the teens who allegedly took them to their parents, he found a GPS unit and cell phone in the back of his patrol car.

It was determined these items were taken during the automobile break-ins on Lincoln St.

From there, it didn't take police very long to connect the dots and wrap up the case.

Solwold was very proud of the commitment his officers showed to catching the alleged thieves.

"The guys came in on their own time, went out in their personal vehicles and sat (to keep an eye on things)," he said.

Extra bicycle patrols were deployed in area and reserve officers "put in a tremendous amount of hours," the acting chief noted.

Ultimately, Solwold said there are things everyone can learn from this little crime spree.

For parents, the lesson is "try to keep track of your kids" and "know where they're at at night."

"A lot of these things typically happen after midnight," Solwold said. "If kids are wandering around after midnight, they're usually up to no good. They should be (at) home."

These break-ins were described by the acting chief as "crimes of opportunity."

"A lot of the issues we have are usually juveniles that are walking through subdivisions and just decide to start grabbing doors," he said.

The best thing residents can do is make sure all of their doors and windows are locked and secure.

Unlawful entry was gained to the homes on Lakes Edge Drive and Thornehill Trail because sliding glass and screen doors were left unlocked.

Residents can also help prevent these types of crimes by not leaving any valuables in their vehicles.

"We need to lock our cars (and) take valuables inside," he Solwold said. "We've had cases in the past where people have left laptops (and) checkbooks."

All of the vehicles involved in these break-ins were unlocked.

If something valuable must be left in the vehicle, make sure it's in the trunk and not visible. "Just because it's Oxford, we still have to lock our stuff up," Solwold noted.

The acting chief also recommended resident keep their property well-lit at night.

"I recommend motion lights," he said. "I've got motion lights on my house and garage."

Lights are a good idea especially on Lakes Edge Drive, which is "actually one of the darker streets in the area" and a "major path" for kids walking to and from the Lake Villa Manufactured Home Community, according to Solwold.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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