Ike victims being targeted by thieves

September 13, 2009 8:08:32 PM PDT
The citizens of Galveston had their lives turned upside down because of Hurricane Ike. But one year later, many say they are being victimized all over again. [IKE ANNIVERSARY: Look back at the storm that changed SE Texas]

In the year since Hurricane Ike, the landscape in Galveston has changed in more ways than one.

"We've had some garage burglaries in our neighborhood," said Linda Strevell with the Galveston Association of Island Neighborhoods.

And not in the way Strevell had hoped.

"People have been robbed of their tools, you know, they have even cut through the garage walls from one into the other," she said. "In a couple of burglaries, people have been spotted. They had a ladder up against a house. Two of the neighbors chased them and they jumped on a bicycle and left."

What's more, these are not isolated incidents. In fact, burglaries on the island through the end of August of this year have skyrocketed up 55 percent from where they were last year.

"It's tough to deal with because of the solvability factors, without the identification and fly-by-night type things and no real pattern to what they are doing," said Captain Tom Karlock with the Galveston Police Department.

Police blame who they call 'fly-by-night contractors' and others who've been flocking to Galveston to help rebuild. With the number of calls for police service up by eight percent and the current manpower shortage, times are tough.

While Galveston police admit there is no simple fix to the problem, one of the tactics they plan on using to fight crime is a concept called community oriented policing.

"We're getting the officers out of their cars, trying to get them to do house checks, keep the officers in certain areas so they can get a good feel for the area," said Captain Karlock.

The initiative will be rolled out in October and by January, an additional 15 police officers are expected to hit the streets, in part because of a federal grant. Strevell, who is active in the island's Neighborhood Association, says she's all for this new way of policing.

"I think it's critical because it gives people support," she said.

It's support at a time when many islanders are still struggling to get back on their feet.

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