Daily dread: NE home thefts rise

POLICE believe they have found a link after burglars struck at homes throughout Wodonga and district almost every day in the past month.

In the past 30 days, 26 homes in Wodonga, Rutherglen, Chiltern and Barnawartha have been hit.

Seven were aggravated burglaries, a term used when the thieves know someone is home.

The latest occurred at Rutherglen in the early hours of yesterday morning when a home was broken into while its residents slept.

Three weeks ago, $80,000 in jewellery was stolen from two homes in the town.

In an earlier incident, a paraplegic man and his wife slept while someone sneaked into their Wedge Court home in Wodonga.

And a family were asleep in their Falcon Circuit home when thieves stole their two cars and laptop that contained precious photos of a relative who had died.

Police from Wodonga’s criminal investigation unit are investigating.

Acting Det Sgt Andrew Leonard said the home burglaries came in waves, whether because of warmer weather or particular offenders had moved into the area, but he said the number of aggravated burglaries was “disappointing”.

“It hasn’t escaped our notice that there’s a sudden increase,” Sgt Leonard said.

“We’re working on it the best we can.”

He said generally the same group of people would be responsible for a run of aggravated burglaries.

When they were shut down, other groups could pop up.

Sgt Leonard said his team had identified a “common theme” in the recent spate of thefts.

But he said it would not be disclosed at this stage so it did not hinder the investigation.

“We’re not prepared to elaborate on it,” he said.

Sgt Leonard said calls from the public with information usually accompanied a flurry of burglaries but unusually, there had not been the same level of assistance with this run.

He said people may think police were too busy to be bothered with small bits of information.

“If people see something out of the ordinary, call police and let them decide whether it’s nothing,” he said.

Sgt Leonard said residents need to look out for people who look out of place in the neighbourhood.

He said when people had a gut instinct that something wasn’t right, it probably wasn’t and even the smallest bit of information could be a key in solving crimes.

Residents needed to keep their homes secured, including locking doors from garages into homes and locking windows and doors at night.

Anyone with information is urged to phone Wodonga police on (02) 6049 2600 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.