Police investigate rash of burglaries

Posted: Thursday, September 06, 2007

Police are urging residents to make sure their homes and vehicles are locked after burglars struck five locations in Kenai between Aug. 22 and Labor Day weekend. The burglaries occurred at the dental office of James Julien, the medical office of Michael Merrick, Central Peninsula Counseling Services, the First Baptist Church and at Kenai Central High School.

"We had a couple things happen over the summer that involve some vandalism and throwing items off the top of the football stadium," KCHS Principal Alan Fields said. "Then just recently, we had a burglary in the cafeteria."

Sgt. Gus Sandahl of the Kenai Police Department said because all five burglaries are still under investigation, he couldn't go into more specific detail as to the items that were stolen.

"It's a spike in burglar activity, that's about all I can say there," he said. "Most of them happened during the night."

According to a press release from Central Peninsula Crime Stoppers, the burglars damaged property inside the buildings as they forced their way into locked rooms and cabinets, stealing small amounts of cash, medication, a laptop computer, an iPod and a fire safe.

Fields said the burglars broke into cafeteria cash registers, taking petty cash as well as some juice and other things that were in the cafeteria.

The burglary at Julien's dental office took place on the night of Aug. 22 and was discovered by employees the next morning. Julien said the burglars didn't do a lot in the way of property damage or vandalism, but did break a crank mechanism on a small window they used as a point of entry. The burglars stole a safe containing a some petty cash, checks and Julien's prescription pad, a laptop computer and a digital camera, exiting through a larger window because the safe wouldn't fit through the smaller window.

"We never had any problems before this and hopefully we won't have any after," Julien said. "I would like to praise the Kenai Police Department, they were very prompt on getting out there and did a thorough job."

Julien said all that remains to wrap this case up is getting through the insurance claim. Because his prescription pad was stolen, police notified area pharmacies in case anything unusual should come their way.

"I don't write a lot of prescriptions," Julien said. "If there was anything unusual (that was) written coming through, they were supposed to contact the police."

Julien also notified his patients so they could put a stop payment on any of the checks that were stolen, and contacted the bank in case the burglars obtained an account number.

Sandahl said this recent spike in burglaries should encourage residents and business owners to make sure buildings are secure and valuable items aren't left where thieves can see them. He also asks residents to keep an eye out for suspicious activity and investigate any strange noises in the middle of the night rather than chalking it up to an animal.

"Other residents have done that and they have caught prowlers committing a crime," he said. "Err on the side of caution. If you see someone out walking in the middle of the night, the police want you to make that call and at least an officer can drive by and contact that person to make sure they are up to lawful activity."

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at jessica.cejnar@peninsulaclarion.com.

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