Old-fashioned techniques being used to catch Bellaire burglars

October 21, 2011 8:18:48 PM PDT
Usually the stories that make the news are those of hi-tech techniques used to solve crime, which is what makes this one so unusual. In the last six months, 68 percent of the Bellaire's home burglaries have been in the neighborhoods east of Interstate 610. So the police department is trying something a little old-fashioned to catch the criminals.

The security measures outside Michelle Mowad's house in Bellaire are obvious these days. She's got cameras, an alarm system and extra locks. All of it is her and her husband's response to a devastating burglary over the summer.

"You feel very vulnerable, it's very upsetting your whole way -- outlook on life and the way you live is disrupted so it's very upsetting," Mowad said.

They feel they've done what they can to be proactive and Mowad's pleased to know Bellaire police are doing more as well, even if it seems a little old fashioned.

"It's one of the tools that we're using to address the burglary problem," Bellaire Police Department Assistant Chief Byron Holloway said.

The department has added more bike patrols into the mix, and on Friday we went along. They are focusing on the eastside of the West Loop, where there has been a cluster of burglaries in the last month.

The crooks' method are pretty much the same: If no one answers the door when they ring, they force their way in and steal electronics, jewelry and computers. If someone does answer, they come up with an excuse and move on. They are oftentimes initially on foot, so two wheels can be better than four.

"They're quiet, they can move around neighborhoods, they can move through parks and parking lots and it puts officers in places to where normally they'd have to park the car and walk to get to," Holloway said.

Bottom line is the bikes allow the officers to sneak up on burglars and if they spot them as they're making their getaway in a car.

"We've got radios and we also have our patrol officers on the streets also. Can't outrun a radio," Bellaire Police Department Lt. Bill Bledsoe said.

For the Mowads who were cleaned out, they'll take all the help they can get.

"They were probably in here for five to six minutes," Mowad said. "Any increase in security for the neighbors and for ourselves and for our kids, that's what we want."

In addition to the bike patrols, the department has added more unmarked units and plain clothes officers. They urge residents to report any activity that may not seem normal for their neighborhoods. That's an appeal all police departments would make.


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