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Town Hall to address Cedar Rapids burglaries, neighborhood watch

Meeting set for Oct. 18 at Cedar Rapids Public Library

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Burglaries are on the rise in Cedar Rapids and police are turning to the public to put a halt to the crime.

There were 801 burglaries in Cedar Rapids from the beginning of 2016 through the end of September, according to the Cedar Rapids Police Department. During that same time frame in 2015, there were 705 burglaries.

Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said a majority of the burglaries are residences, with residential storage areas such as garages or sheds coming in second. Businesses account for a distant third, Hamblin said. Each quadrant of Cedar Rapids has been hit at one time or another, Hamblin said.

“They’ve been all over the city,” she said.

Police don’t know why the burglaries are occurring, but Hamblin said drug abuse often fuels property crimes with users trying to steal items to sell and fund their drug habits.

Burglars are often knocking on front doors and, when no one answers, breaking in through the backdoor, Hamblin said.

In order to combat the rise in burglaries, the police department is hosting a Neighborhood Watch Town Hall Meeting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Whipple Auditorium of the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

“What we’re wanting to get out is the information the burglaries are on an increase in Cedar Rapids, how they’re breaking in, what the community can do to reduce their chances of becoming a victim,” Hamblin said.

Police will also be giving information on forming and maintaining a neighborhood watch. Hamblin said neighborhood watch groups have formed in the past, but many of them “have gone by the wayside.”

While many watch groups start after a break-in, Hamblin said police hope more watches will be formed to prevent future burglaries.

The idea behind the watch is neighbors generally know what people and vehicles belong in a neighborhood and are more likely to spot a person or vehicle that doesn’t belong. That suspicious activity can then be reported to the police.

Neighborhood watch groups are generally comprised of three levels of participants — the residents of the neighborhood, block captains and co-captains and a law enforcement representative.

Hamblin said anyone who can’t make Tuesday’s town hall can call the department’s Crime Prevention Bureau at 286-5440 to learn about the neighborhood watch program.

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