Video by Lindsay Kerr, Scroll TV News
A burglary occurs in Rexburg more often than most people realize.
Anyone can commit a burglary, according to The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology. The age of first burglary arrest ranged from nine to 50 years old.
Many burglars will spend less than 60 seconds trying to break into a home and only a few minutes once inside, according to the Rexburg Police Department.
Captain Randy Lewis, of the Rexburg Police Department, said theft and burglary are alive and well in Rexburg. He said there are probably more burglaries during the summer because the weather is favorable for such activity.
A recent example of theft and burglary in Rexburg happened in June when a woman stole $2,000 worth of pictures and frames from Wal-Mart.
She told the photo center in Wal-Mart that her name is Carmela Juarez, according to BYU-I Radio. Rexburg police have asked the public to help them.
Lewis said that in order for a person to commit burglary, he or she has to have developed the intent to commit a crime prior to going into a business or home. He said the person does not necessarily have to break in, but if the door is opened or unlocked and they go in with the intent to commit a crime, that is burglary.
“If a person goes in and steals a pair of shoes worth $50, then they are charged with petty theft and burglary, but if they steal something that is worth over $1,000, then they are charged with grand theft and burglary,” Lewis said. “So it’s really two crimes that are committed.”
Zach Barnes, a junior studying recreation management, said he had some of his property stolen at the beginning of Fall Semester 2015.
Barnes said that at the time of the burglary, he and his roommates worked from 11:30 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. He said that one morning after work, they returned home and found that his Wii U, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, all his music collection and other miscellaneous items were gone.
“They got me pretty clean,” Barnes said. “The funny thing is they left some Wii remotes, and they came back and stole those, too, so apparently we did not learn our lesson quite yet. The problem is that we could not lock the door because our apartment had not given us a key that worked.”
Lewis said that in order for people to protect themselves, the first thing they must do is lock their doors and put valuable property away.
Barnes said he reported the incident to both the police and the management of his apartment complex but neither were able to do much about it.
“We asked for locks for our bedrooms, but the management said we will have to supply them ourselves,” Barnes said. “It was kinda lame because now we had to keep everything inside and we could not leave them out.”
Barnes said they felt like this was Rexburg and nothing ever happened, so they felt safe leaving their doors unlocked until this incident.
Lewis said people should be conscious of who they let in their house and what they let them see.
Lewis said it may be helpful to write down serial numbers of electronic devices and keep it in a safe place different from a computer so if something happens, one can access those and get back to them.
Lewis said people need to make sure they know what they have and mark them. He said if people put a mark on their belongings that is unique to them, if it ever comes up missing, they can easily identify it.
Lewis said the university gets burglarized during general conference the most. “I hate to say it, but the gals are the worst for leaving the door unlocked,” Lewis said. “Lock your doors, close your drapes, and make sure the windows are secure. Hide your stuff under the bed or put it in the closet so that it is not in plain view.”
Lewis said when people leave their doors unlocked or leave their valuables in plain view, they encourage burglary. He said if the opportunity is there, burglars are going to take it; otherwise, they probably would not.
Statistics show that in Idaho, 70.8 percent of burglaries happen in residences and 22.6 percent of burglary incidents occurred at a place of business, according to the Idaho State Police.
Over 22 percent of burglary arrests were juveniles, according to the Idaho State Police Department.
“We have a lot of burglaries with the college students, and lately the chances for getting caught are pretty good,” Lewis said.
Lewis said one of the main reasons is video surveillance around town.
“When we do an investigation and we have a burglary, we go and look at the cameras at the apartment complex and businesses,” Lewis said. “There are other cameras around town that captures 24 hours of surveillance.”
Lewis said the police department also has surveillance of all the major parts of the city.
Lewis said those who are caught burglarizing are fined.
“What happens is if they are convicted is they pay a fine or restitution,” Lewis said. “Maybe they took the TV and they did not get to use. The judge can say, ‘You still have to pay for that TV.’”
Lewis said the prices vary based on what the crime is.
“The age brackets for burglary varies,” Lewis said. “More sophisticated crimes are done by older people in the 30s or 40s. A lot of our college students ages are the ones caught stealing and breaking in, so a lot 20-year-olds are involved as well.”
Lewis said if one does not live in a particular home, they should not be in there by themselves because they could be accused of burglary if something goes missing while they are there.
“If you walk into someone’s apartment and there is no one in there, walk out right away,” Lewis said.
Lewis said if a person walks into an apartment and there is someone in there that is not supposed to be there, he or she should get out fast.
“The real serious burglars are dangerous,” Lewis said. “This is because they commit their crime at night in darkness so they do not get caught and identified, but most of the ones we deal with here are just stupid mistakes. They are mostly your part-time burglars.”
Lewis said if a person gets convicted of a felony, they cannot go to certain schools or get certain jobs.
“Once you are convicted, you are kind of toast,” Lewis said.
If anyone sees suspicious or criminal activity, they can call the police at 208-359-3000, according to the Rexburg Police Department website.