Published: July 19, 2013
Thieves have been busy this summer in the city's Old North End.
What began as a spattering of vandalism and crimes of opportunity in late May, escalated a few weeks later to an near-home-invasion. Two men attempted to break into a house on the 1200 block of North Weber Street in the early hours of June 24, one through a bedroom window, as a family there slept.
While theft and burglary aren't unheard of in the Old North End, a Colorado Springs neighborhood that includes dozens of city blocks just north of downtown, neighborhood directors say they've seen an unusual amount of crime in the last few months. From May 10 to July 19, there were six burglaries, one vandalism, two thefts and two instances in which homeowners interrupted would-be burglars trying to steal items in the dead of night, according to the Old North End Neighborhood Board.
In the week between June 17 and 24, the neighborhood saw five burglaries, four of which were forced entries, according to Tim Besson, security chief for the neighborhood group. Colorado Springs police confirmed many of the reported incidents, but Besson said some weren't reported to law enforcement at the homeowner's discretion.
"I know of one specific incident that was close to my house where they came through the window screen," Besson said. "They (police) thought it could be the same person because it happened at a couple of other houses. There was a thought that maybe it was the same individual."
Through social media and community alerts, Besson and other board members have been working to keep the area informed and aware. In the last two weeks, the number of property crimes has begun to dwindle.
"I think it's just a heightened awareness thing," Besson said. "I don't think anyone is particularly worried. We haven't had any incidents where there has been any kind of physical harm."
Police typically see an increase in theft-related crime during summer months, according to Officer Sid Santos, who oversees crime prevention for the Gold Hill Division of the CSPD. Santos works with neighborhoods such as the Old North End to facilitate watch groups and eliminate preventable crime. Oftentimes, citizens unknowingly welcome burglars.
"The thing we want people to be aware of is not leaving valuables in your car, making sure your garage is shut," Santos said. "I would work patrol in the northeast part of the city, and around 7 a.m. I would drive by and see dozens of open garages."
Santos travels around with a group of officers speaking to neighborhood groups a few times a week about home and personal safety.
"We try to stress the basic safety reminders to people," he said.
Contact Jesse Paul at 636-0253. Twitter: @JesseAPaul