Residents voice concern about break-in uptick
To help protect residents of Mokena and Frankfort from falling victim to the increase of car burglaries reported in the area, the Frankfort Square Park District and Will County Sheriff’s Office held a public meeting July 13 to allow people to meet informally with officials to discuss and ask questions.
Since Jan. 1, the Mokena-Frankfort area has reported an uptick of approximately 20 car burglaries, according to the county.
“The numbers are a little eschewed, but I don’t think it’s that high,” said Dirk Obermayer, a patrol sergeant for Will County Sheriff’s Office, referring to the number of incidents classified as car burglaries or other related offenses.
The numbers presented are comparable to communities across Will County, Obermayer said.
Officials looked to clarify the concerns they have in the area.
“Someone always has something value in there—phone charges, GPS,” Obermayer said. “Sometimes people leave their wallets, purses, backpacks, laptop bags, workout gym bags. Those things usually get taken.”
Typically, car burglaries are offenses committed by juveniles who do not belong to the community in which the crime occurred, he said. They enter the community through highways that lead into the Frankfort-Mokena area.
“As far as it being from in the community, [it happens] very rarely,” Obermayer said. “I think one juvenile which we did catch, he did ended up getting caught on a follow-up interview. He was from the area.”
Many of these crimes occur from 3:30-6:30 a.m., Obermayer said.
“Those are the new hot times for burglary of motor vehicles,” he said. “And, then when you start talking about burglaries, people think it’s the middle of the night. It’s not.”
Jennifer Jurgovan, of Frankfort, was one of several people in attendance for the public meeting. She said she became a victim last fall.
“I also did have my car broken into twice in one night and my doors were locked” she said. “[I] even went out a second time and locked them. You could see that they jimmied my door open.”
Jurgovan added that no property was stolen as a result of the two early morning break-ins.
But many incidents involve unlocked cars.
“Because you break a window in these neighborhoods, people are going to hear it,” Obermayer said. “It’s all just keeping those doors locked, and everybody’s guilty of it. We got to all try to remember if you keep valuables in there, you definitely have to lock it.”
Reports from the Will County Sheriff’s Office show that car burglaries involving break-ins result in a pattern that differs from incidents that do not.
“As far as the actual smash—people smashing your windows to get in—the numbers would be very small for burglaries to motor vehicles since January,” Obermayer said. “I would say probably even single digits of people that actually broken into [vehicles.]”
Some attendees called into question the Will County Sheriff’s Office’s response time to incidents in Frankfort Square, as well as issues concerning man-power.
Obermayer acknowledged the concerns raised and said that was more of an issue in the past.
“We have more man-power east of Cedar [Road] than Frankfort and Mokena, combined,” Obermayer said. “We got deputies on call. We got our [tactical] units out and about. We’re definitely staffed. Man-power—that should never be a concern.”
Obermayer credits the community’s responsiveness to help curve crime.
“One great things about this neighbor and this community is how tight-knit everybody is,” he said. “A lot of people know who belongs, what vehicles are there. We get so many suspicious calls. ‘Hey, this car is park down the street. It doesn’t belong here.’ All of this, ‘This red car has been in this lady’s driveway. One-hundred percent she doesn’t own that car. I don’t think they belong there.’ [They’re] very proactive, which we love.”
Obermayer urged people to call the Will County Sheriff’s Office and said there’s never a dumb reason to call them.
“We much rather come out for a suspicious car or a suspicious person than have to respond to know that you guys have been victims of a crime,” he said.