Police Investigate Pair of Burglaries

WHEELING – Ohio County sheriff’s deputies are investigating two unrelated weekend burglaries, including one in which someone cut the gas line inside a home while the owner was away.

Early Sunday, Butler said, a woman returned from work to her home in the 200 block of GC&P Road to find her garage door open. Responding deputies noticed an odor of natural gas when they entered the home and found a gas line had been cut.

Nothing was reported missing from the home, and Butler said it’s unclear whether the burglar cut the line in an attempt to harm the homeowner, misidentified it as copper pipe before realizing the mistake or had some other motive.

Deputies also are looking into a Friday morning incident in West Liberty, though investigators declined to release the address or street where it occurred.

Chief Deputy Drage Flick said dispatch received a call from the resident’s alarm company at 11 a.m. The victims, who also weren’t home at the time, reported two jewelry boxes missing.

There are no suspects in either burglary, both of which remain under investigation.

Although Butler said none of these tips likely would have prevented this weekend’s burglaries, there are some things residents should keep in mind to protect their homes. Avoid posting information about vacations to social media, he said, and take note if you are receiving hang-up phone calls.

Another common ruse, he said, involves knocking on doors to see if anyone is home. If someone answers, the person asks for a non-existent individual and, upon being told they have the wrong address, moves on to the next house. If no one comes to the door, the person calls an accomplice to inform them the house is empty.

If this occurs, “call dispatch right away so we can get a car out there,” Butler said.

The sheriff said there’s no reason to believe the two crimes are related, as was the case with a string of burglaries in 2011 in rural Ohio County. Butler said such crimes have been relatively few and far between since that case was solved.

“We haven’t had the problems we’ve had in the past,” he said.