Police have no leads in rash of break-insPublished 11:13am Thursday, March 25, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
It was a Monday night, March 15, when Gina DeDonato and her husband, David Nichols, residents at Village Heights Apartments thought they were mere victims of some teenage pranks.
Taking a nap in the couple’s spare room where the back door was located, Nichols said he woke when his dog grumbled slightly and he heard light knocking just outside the door but found no one outside when he went to answer it. The same thing happened at the front door.
“I opened up the door and nobody was there,” he said. He estimates he heard the jingling of a doorknob between 10 and 10:15 p.m.
Assuming teenagers were out causing trouble, Nichols took his dog outside for a short walk and warmed up his truck, as he got ready to head out for a quick trip to Wal-Mart. His wife lay asleep on her chaise lounge in the living room.
It was while she slept, Nichols said that someone kicked in the back door. DeDonato never woke.
“Then I went and walked back (to the spare room) to take the dog out the back door and when I went back there the door was open and it was kicked in,” Nichols said. “It was on the hinges but it was all busted up.
“I went back out there (to the living room) to make sure my wife was breathing,” he said.
Whoever broke into their home, Nichols said, got away with a computer game system, a desk file and computer printer.
He said when speaking to the police officer that reported to the scene he was told those committing such home invasions “don’t care if anyone is home or not.”
Looking around the complex, Nichols and police found another back door kicked in – but it only led to an empty apartment.
Edwardsburg Police Chief Kenneth Wray said in addition to a handful of home invasions like that of the DeDonato/Nichols residence, officers are getting reports of several motor vehicle break-ins as well as break-ins at local businesses.
“We don’t really have any suspects at this point,” Wray said.
Many of the motor vehicles that have been broken into in the last two weeks have been left unlocked. Wray is urging citizens to lock their vehicles and take out any valuables they might normally leave inside.
He is also advising residents to double-check their locks at home as well.
Nichols said the night of the incident at his home he’d learned there had been quite a few similar occurrences and police were working to find the perpetrators.
Wray believes there are two groups committing the acts; so far one lead they are working includes witnesses seeing two young suspects, dressed in dark clothing, on foot near the site of one of the incidents.
He didn’t specify which one.
Break-ins took place at both the Fireside Restaurant and Lunkers, Wray said. In both instances, cash was taken.
Nichols said he was concerned with the lack of lighting at his apartment complex and the danger posed to some fellow residents – especially young women living alone.
“If I had a suspect it would help,” Wray said.
He’s hoping community members will begin paying attention to their surroundings and notify police immediately if they notice anything suspicious.
Nichols hopes so as well, fearing that too many people may not be aware of the current rash of break-ins.
“Somebody gets hurt or killed we’re all going to feel awful about that,” he said. “People should be aware. It just takes one person to get hurt.”
It was luck his wife never woke to find strangers in their home or worse.
“I would have just been beside myself if even a hand had been put on her,” he said. “I just don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”