WHEELING - Police believe the same person or group is responsible for two bold home invasions in the Woodsdale area of Wheeling early Saturday that took place while residents were asleep inside.
It also appears the suspects may have tried to break into several other homes in the neighborhood that night, according to Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball.
At about 4:30 a.m. Saturday, residents at 21 Hamilton Ave. woke to find a man about 6 feet, 3 inches tall wearing a white hooded sweatshirt inside their home. After a brief scuffle with one of the residents, the man fled through the home's back door. Several items were taken.
As the resident chased the burglar from the home, he heard another door closing elsewhere in the house, Kimball said, leading police to believe at least one more person may have been involved.
A hammer and screwdriver were found outside the home's basement door, Kimball noted.
Meanwhile, at 6:54 a.m. Saturday, someone reported multiple items taken from a vehicle and inside a home at 2 Birch Ave. According to Kimball, the suspect or suspects retrieved a garage door opener from an unlocked car parked in the driveway and used it to enter the home.
Kimball also said a Lynwood Avenue resident observed a white man wearing a "grayish white" hooded sweatshirt attempting to open a kitchen window just before midnight Friday. Also on Saturday morning, pry marks on doors and other signs of attempted break-ins were discovered at two homes at 25 and 27 Hamilton Ave., just down the street from the first home invasion.
"We believe that all these crimes are related to the same group of suspects," said Kimball.
No arrests have been made, and investigation into the incidents continues.
Kimball said criminals in general are becoming more brazen in their attempts to find cash or items that can quickly be sold for cash, often in order to buy illegal drugs.
"Most times guys aren't stealing just to steal," said Kimball.
He urges homeowners to take all precautions to keep their homes secure. A criminal who is determined enough to enter a home likely will find a way inside, he acknowledged - but if residents make doing so as difficult as possible, there's a good chance the would-be burglar will move on.
"Try to think like a burglar. ... How would you try to get into your own house?" Kimball said.