Rash of Winton Home Burglaries, Residents Urged to be Wary

March 6, 2009 9:54:47 PM PST
Merced County Authorities are blaming kids who cut class for more than a dozen recent home burglaries. Detectives say the kids are stealing from homes during the daytime when the owners are at work and the young thieves should be in school. Now authorities are asking residents to take extra precautions to protect themselves and their neighbors.Maria Jester is having a security system installed after someone recently broke into her new home through a window and stole jewelry and expensive video game systems. "It feels so bad because somebody break into our house, and we work hard for our stuff," said Jester.

The Jester's house is just one of 37 to be burglarized in Winton in the last three months. The Merced County Sheriff's Department says kids are to blame for at least a dozen of the break-ins.

Merced Co. Sheriff Mark Pazin said, "There are a number of juveniles who were not going to school, seizing that opportunity, casing certain residences in the Winton area, and then burglarizing them."

Sheriff Mark Pazin says the cost to replace stolen items and repair broken windows and doors easily adds up to tens of thousands of dollars. And he's frustrated that the kids are selling the items to other community members for a profit.

Sheriff Pazin said, "They're supposed to be at home and at school. If you want to earn money, here's a novel idea, get a job!"

Deputies have already arrested some of the young suspects, but they're encouraging residents to make sure their homes are secured before leaving for work. Mathew Scallin, who lives in a neighborhood that's been hit more than once, says he isn't taking any chances. "I make sure it's locked and keep all the doors and windows locked," said Scallin.

And the Jester's are hoping their new security system will keep them from being targeted again.

The sheriff's department is also asking residents to report any suspicious sightings of juveniles during school hours.

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