JAY TWP. - The Pennsylvania State Police have issued a warning to Jay Township residents urging them to lock their vehicles and take valuable items inside following a recent string of burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles in the area.
Trooper Craig A. Smith, the investigating officer in two recent thefts from a motor vehicle, said the criminal activity has peaked within the last month and the investigation has yet to yield any suspects.
"I had two of them [cases] myself down that way, but there's probably been six others...they're still being looked into, I don't have anything like, 'Hey we got the guy,'" Smith said.
One such incident investigated by Smith involved the theft of electronics and currency valued at $135 from a vehicle parked outside a residence on Lincoln Street in Byrnedale. According to the police report dated April 1, the actor or actors then proceeded to enter the unlocked garage at the same location and pilfer $360 more worth of valuables from two vehicles parked inside.
Smith said that based upon the particulars and proximity of the incidents, they are likely the work of the same person or persons.
"Based upon the location that it has been taking place in and the type of items that have been removed, and they've all been taken out of cars, I'd say probably the same individuals," Smith said.
Smith said that the thefts are likely random incidents in which valuables are readily visible from outside the vehicle, causing a perpetrator to take notice and attempt entry.
"They're seeing something out in the open-- it gives them a reason to check the door," Smith said.
Smith reiterated that precautions should be taken by owners in locking their vehicle and removing valuables, or at least concealing them.
"Lock your car. If you could take the valuables inside, take them inside with you. If not, put them somewhere out of sight in the car and make sure the car is locked. Somebody doesn't just walk by and see a GPS unit, a cellphone, an iPod. Keep it out of sight," Smith said.
With Jay Township being without its own police force, it relies solely on the state police for enforcement. Township Supervisor Murray K. Lilley said that the state police have upped their presence in the wake of the recent thefts, but are unable to maintain a constant presence due to a rotating schedule of patrolled areas.
Lilley said that the theft of scrap metals has also been an ongoing problem in the township, adding that last week state police apprehended a Driftwood resident in the process of stealing "headwall markers" belonging to the municipality. An estimated 40 headwall markers were recovered from the residence of the accused. As Lilley explained, $638.65 in expenses was incurred by the township as a result of the thefts. Lilley added that the amount was submitted to the state police in order that it be recouped in the form of restitution following prosecution.
Lilley said he was called out by police to retrieve the markers in the individual's possession at the time of his arrest, at which point he discussed the growing frequency of theft in the township with the officers at the scene.
"We touched on the base that there had been some car thefts. In fact, that day it had been brought to my attention, the people didn't report it, their garage was broken into and all the aluminum cans and stuff they had stored in there were stolen," Lilley said.
Pick up a copy of the Friday, April 13, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.