Residents Receive Anti-Burglary Advice

Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger told Woodsdale residents an investigation into neighborhood burglaries is “moving in the right direction” and that there is “no need to be in fear.”

Schwertfeger attended a neighborhood watch meeting Tuesday at Woodsdale Elementary School. Two burglaries occurred Oct. 19-20 while the Hamilton and Birch avenue residents were home, making the crimes somewhat unusual for the city, he noted. There were also two or three attempted burglaries in the same neighborhood.

Schwertfeger said he could not disclose many details of the crimes without hindering the investigation. But he noted small electronics, prescription pills and other miscellaneous items were taken. He said the items likely were stolen for resale to generate money to purchase drugs.

“We are moving forward rapidly. I think you will see some relevant news in the coming weeks,” he said. “These are very brazen break-ins.”

A couple residents asked what they should do if they believed an intruder or burglar was inside their home. Schwertfeger said to call 911 immediately, if possible.

“My personal preference – I’m going to fight like hell,” he said.

He noted not everyone is able or willing to fight off an intruder, but people should think ahead about such scenarios and have a plan. In the meantime, he suggested people install motion sensor lighting outside their homes. And if they prefer, people may also want to leave their porch lights on or a light on inside their home. Others in the crowd suggested using interior door locks or a simple wedge against a door.

When asked why police reports do not list more information about incidents, Schwertfeger said in some cases it could hinder a conviction in court.

“I want to wrap it up and it be in a nice bow. And I don’t want any loopholes,” he said.

He also was asked about the law regarding use of a gun on an intruder inside a home. He replied that he believed if someone felt they were in harm’s way, it would be a justified use of force. But he added did not want to advocate the use of guns.

Apparently some people in the neighborhood did not believe there was a need to lock their home’s doors in the past. But Lt. Shaun Flanegin noted that “anything that comes with a lock needs to be used.” He said people should use “lights, locks and look out for each other.” Residents also should not hesitate to report stolen items or suspicious acting people in the neighborhood. And if you can’t remember the police department’s front desk number – 304-234-3664 – call 911, Schwertfeger said.