MONTVILLE TOWNSHIP, Ohio-- Homeowners in Montville Township are being cautioned to report any suspicious activity, particularly at night, after a recent string of unusual home break-ins during which the thief risks encounters with the people who live there.
The break-ins have been happening between 1:00 and 3:30 am.
Police report at least four similar break-ins in the past week during which it appears a man goes to a home, knocks on a door or rings a doorbell, then enters the home and in most cases goes straight to the master bedroom.
"They are taking small items, usually jewelry and they did take a gun out of one of the homes," said Montville Lieutenant Matthew Neil.
Neil says the thieves also appear to be taking anything they think is related to home security.
In one case the homeowner, who was away at the time, received a video from the camera on his doorbell that showed a figure tampering with the doorbell. Police say the doorbell itself was taken but not before it captured the video which was sent at 2:30 a.m.
In another case a homeowner was awakened by someone at his back door at about 3:30 in the morning. After he turned on some lights the person fled.
Police dogs twice took officers on a trail that led to the street where they believe the individual had a waiting car.
Another image, captured from a bank camera, shows a hooded man attempting to get cash from a card that was stolen in one of the break-ins.
"What we are really asking residents is if they see anything, it doesn't matter if it is a younger white male or anybody else, anybody that comes to your, you see on your property or comes to your house and rings your doorbell at 3:00 in the morning, 2:00 in the morning ,1:00 in the morning we need to know about that," said Neil.
In one of the developments residents say they are already looking out for one another, and most, if not all, of the more than 200 residents are already aware of the break-in there.
"Our association makes sure that everybody knows whats going on in this neighborhood. We do it by emails; we do it by letter and I can assure you that most of the residents right now know what's going on in this neighborhood with the break-in," said Gary Rudolph.
"I know from past experience you feel really violated when somebody breaks into your house, you know; your first reaction is, you know, my stuff is gone. Well it's only stuff and then it settles in on you that I was really violated when that happened and that's when people get really mad," said Roger Stafford, who says everyone there is keeping a close eye on everyone else, particularly neighbors they know are away.
Police say they have stepped up patrols in the neighborhoods and while they are asking people to report anything suspicious, they are urging residents not to chase or follow anybody themselves.
"The burglaries that we have seen in the past, I've been here fifteen years, the burglaries that we have seen are daytime burglaries. They knock on the door. They ring the doorbell. Nobody answers. They kick in the front door. This is not that; this takes it to another level when you enter a home at nighttime that you don't know is occupied or not," said Neil.
Anyone who can help identify the thief or who has seen something suspicious is urged to call the Montville Police Department.