Douglas County dog door burglar detained

By Garrison Wells Updated: December 13, 2013 at 9:13 pm • Published: December 13, 2013 | 6:25 pm

Doggie doors aren't just for the dogs.

Sometimes, burglars like to use them too.

One woman has been arrested as part of an investigation into a rash of doggie door burglaries in Douglas County.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office is holding 20-year-old Mackenzie Mavis on suspicion of second degree burglary, crimes against an at-risk adult and theft.

Mavis was nabbed Nov. 29.

The sheriff's office was dispatched Nov. 29 to a burglary in progress in Highlands Ranch.

A homeowner who was awakened by the suspect at about 4 a.m. chased her out of the home, caught her and held her until the deputies arrived.

"In the previous month, we had 12 pet door burglaries," said Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Ron Hanavan,. "We're trying to determine if she was associated with all 12. At this point we've only made the one arrest, but investigation is ongoing to determine if other people were involved."

The homeowner, who has not been identified, does not want to talk to media, Hanavan said.

Pet door burglaries aren't exactly common.

But given the right circumstances and the right-sized individual, it's access to a residence for a burglar.

Property detectives for the Colorado Springs Police Department have not run into any dog door entries by burglars in the city, said Barbara Miller, the department's spokeswoman.

Experts, she said, "agree that dog doors are relatively low on the list, since not every house has one, they are usually small and a burglar can't be sure what might be on the other side."

National statistics, she said, show that a burglary occurs every 15 seconds, with 34 percent entering through the front door of the residence.

They are equally rare in Douglas County, said Hanavan.

"I can't recall anything recently," he said. "That is why we want to spread the word. People shouldn't let their guard down because this is a vulnerability within the confines of an individual's home. A would-be criminal can use that against you."

Mavis, he said, "is a pretty small-framed female. Obviously, it depends on the size of the pet door. She was able to squeeze through."

In all, burglaries in Douglas County have been declining, Hanavan said.

In 2010, the county had 239 burglaries. There were 318 in 2011, 266 in 2012 and for the first six months of this year there have been 117.

Most burglaries occur during the day. And in Douglas County many occur through open garage doors during the warmer months, Hanavan said.

"We may have a trend where multiple folks have left their garage doors open on a block and we may end up having two or three burglaries. In summer, people leave their garage doors open," Hanavan said.

However they get in, burglaries are "very dangerous," he said. "A suspect generally speaking doesn't want to confront a homeowner."

One way homeowners can protect themselves against a burglar who wants to bust in through the doggie door is to buy the kind that are made of metal that slide into place when not in use.

"When you are at home and awake and moving around your house, it's appropriate to take the metal slide out," Hanavan said. "But when you go to bed or are gone for work, put it in. Most people are getting in that pet door because of the convenience. It's a crime of opportunity."

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