Font Hill break-ins spur more patrols

Police plan to meet with area residents

March 05, 2001|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

Howard County police have stepped up patrols in the Font Hill area of Ellicott City after three recent nighttime burglaries in the normally quiet neighborhood.

Police also plan to meet with residents in Font Hill and nearby neighborhoods - which are part of the Centennial community - to warn them to be watchful and to lock up their homes.

"The most significant thing to note about each of these three instances is that, in every case, the suspect entered through an unlocked, unsecured door or window," said police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn. "What we're finding is that people are leaving sliders unlocked, garage doors unlocked."

She added, "The most important advice that we can give is to make sure that your home is well-secured."

Police say the first break-in happened about 1:30 a.m. Jan. 25, when someone entered a house in the 4000 block of Arjay Circle through an unlocked sliding-glass door.

Six days later, about 3 a.m., someone slipped into a house in the 3400 block of Font Hill Drive through an unlocked window, police said.

The most recent break-in was late in the night of Feb. 13 or early on Feb. 14 in the 2500 block of Dairy Valley Trail. The sliding-glass door and the garage door had been left unlocked, police said.

The suspect stole a purse in the February break-in, but nothing was taken during the other two incidents, Llewellyn said. Residents woke up in both cases, either heard or saw the burglar and apparently scared the person off, she said.

Susanne Stahley, who lives a few houses from one of the break-in sites, moved into the Font Hill area 2 1/2 years ago, in part because she considered it a safe neighborhood. She said the burglaries have upset her and others in the community.

"People have felt it's never happened before," she said. "Neighbors have said they've lived here 17 years and never had that happen."

Stahley said people in the home next to hers saw footprints in the snow behind their house the day after one of the break-ins.

"Someone was walking around, looking for an easy in," she said. "People should make sure everything is locked up."

Margaret Ann Nolan, president of the Font Hill Neighborhood Association, wasn't startled by the burglaries.

The suburbs aren't immune, she said: Her shed was broken into about 10 years ago.

"I do not for a minute harbor the illusion that crime is unique to the metropolitan area," she said. "I think that people have that illusion because they don't read about it in the paper."

Police plan to meet with Font Hill residents soon, though they have not scheduled a date. They are expected to meet Tuesday with residents of nearby Burleigh Manor.

Officers also have increased patrols in Centennial Park in response to break-ins. Since the summer, several dozen visitors to the park off Route 108 have had cars jimmied open or windows smashed and thieves took credit cards and cash, police said.

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