Several residences have been broken into across Cherokee County and Jasper County, Mo., during the daytime hours according to Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves.
Groves said Friday that the burglaries began about two weeks ago and then tapered off for a few days when a spike in rural burglaries began in Jasper County.
On Thursday there were three of the break-ins, one in the county and two in Baxter Springs.
A fourth, possibly failed break-in was foiled when the homeowner saw an unfamiliar vehicle pull into the drive and came out of the house.
The vehicle then left, but was captured on a game cam and is regarded as potentially the vehicle driven by the suspects.
According to a release from Groves in these cases, the suspect or suspects have forced entry into the home during the middle of the day, when many residents are at work.
He said additional officers have been assigned to work during the day and there are extra patrols in the unincorporated areas of the county.
They then have focused on stealing clothing, jewelry, a laptop and money in the homes — focusing primarily on jewelry — which Groves said they suspect may be melted down for the gold.
Typically, he said, the burglars will take a pillowcase from the victims’ home; fill it with items and leave.
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office has identified a suspect, and has also collected forensic evidence from one of the scenes that will be analyzed by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Laboratory Specialists for identification confirmation.
CKSO has also been able to recover some, but not all, of the property recently stolen.
In addition, on Thursday, the Sheriff’s Office obtained a photo taken from a game cam at a rural residence. The vehicle matches the description given to officers during a neighborhood canvass.
Residents are encouraged to not only watch for suspicious activity in their neighborhoods but to report the activity to law enforcement when they see it.
These cases also serve as a reminder to take a few minutes to photograph valuables and document serial numbers (even taking a picture with cell phone camera will be helpful).
"One thing that would be really helpful in these cases is if people would take two minutes and take a picture of their jewelry box so we can identify their property if we find it," Groves said, adding that any times law enforcement comes across jewelry and other items believed to be stolen, but due to lack of serial numbers or detailed descriptions are unable to identify a proper owner. Having a photograph of items such as jewelry allows officers to make a positive identification and also allows the Sheriff’s Office to email those photographs to officers throughout Southwest Missouri, Southeast Kansas and Northwest Oklahoma, so any officer who comes across it will be better equipped to identify it as stolen property.
Although the investigation into these recent cases has developed a suspect, anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office at (620)848-3000 or (620)429-3992.