Urbana Police investigating yearlong spike in thefts

Urbana has seen an increase in thefts in the past year and the city’s police division needs help identifying possible suspects.

The first thefts happened in July 2016 and now the division has 43 unsolved cases open to date, Urbana Police Division Chief Matt Lingrell said. Most of them have happened in the southeastern part of the city but that has changed recently.

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“Just in the past three months it seems like it’s been spreading to the northeast and southwest part of the city,” Lingrell said.

The chief said it’s not uncommon to have thefts but there’s so many investigators believe they’re tied together. The most common items stolen are garden tools, tools, chainsaws, leaf blowers and snow blowers. Many of the break-ins have hit sheds and garages.

Most of the thefts happen overnight when people are asleep but Lingrell said some houses might have been targeted.

“There was mail stuffed in their mailbox outside, like they’ve been gone on vacation, or non-collected newspapers kind of indicated no one was home,” Lingrell said.

One Urbana resident said he’s not surprised to learn about the thefts.

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“I believe that they are coming up here a lot of them are druggies and taking it to go get their money,” Dominick Klco said.

The public would be a great help in solving the cases, the chief believes.

“If you see something, say something,” Lingrell said. “If something seems out of place in your neighborhood, it’s probably out of place.”

He also said people need to keep their properties well-lit and they should take inventory of their belongings.

“When you do have expensive property or any property, log the serial numbers, or the model numbers and take pictures of your property,” Lingrell said.

The division has identified people of interest in the thefts but they don’t have solid evidence to link the crimes or make an arrest. Anyone who might have information should call the Urbana Police Division at 937-652-4350.

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