Holiday Break Ins at Empty Houses - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Holiday Break Ins at Empty Houses

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By Phil Prazan



Iowans often travel for the holidays, going to a families for Christmas or maybe just getting out of this cold.  But police say that also creates opportunities for burglars who want to spend time looking around for things to take.
If you'd imagine a great grandmother's house on Des Moines' east side, it would look like Marjorie Lehman's. She even has that curious guard dog.

"You can secure your home but that doesn't make you safe," says Lehman.

She left Christmas eve to visit family, she returned a victim.

"I was kind of disgusted," says Lehman.

Someone pried open her back door and rummaged through her living and bedroom.

"You can't trust nobody the way it seems anymore," says Lehman.

Police say year after year during the Christmas season, burglars strike all over the metro.  Reports this December?  So far, 137.

"That's been since about Thanksgiving, that's when a lot of the holiday travel starts," says Sgt. Jason Halifax with Des Moines PD.

He explains how the crime that hit around 40th and Germania last weekend - when thief's took several cars along with thousands of dollars in items - well that crime spree moved to Marjorie's neighborhood.

"There's too many things that happen right around here, on the east side of Des Moines," says Lehman.

Just two blocks away, someone stole a refrigerator from a home being remodeled, also deciding, to un-hinge and take the door on the way out.

As if the Grinch himself came to town, on 21st and High street, a thief broke in the front door and took the presents.  I-pods, sunglasses, a laptop and other items reaching well above $1,600 walked out the back garage.

"You could try and pawn it." says Sgt. Halifax, "You could sell it packaged up new and return it to the store where it came from, or trade it for drugs honestly."

So when some Iowans left for the holidays, some criminals moved in.

"They know that they're gone for longer periods of time, they know they can spend as much time as they want inside some of these residences," says Sgt. Halifax.

So how can you prevent this from happening?  Well police say it doesn't help when Iowans post vacation pictures or statuses explaining how much fun they're having on a beach or someplace warm.

They say many times burglars know their victims and that information just advertises the home is empty and how long it will take for someone to return.

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