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Dave Olson, Published July 30 2013

Fargo sees increase in number of burglaries

FARGO – There were 311 burglary cases in Fargo from Jan. 1 through July 21, a 38 percent increase compared with the same period last year when 225 cases were reported.

Property crimes overall, however, were down 3 percent for that same time period, said Police Lt. Joel Vettel.

Property crimes include thefts such as vehicle theft and criminal mischief.

In general, Fargo’s burglary cases tend to involve people taking items from garages that have had doors left open, Vettel said.

“Most of ours (burglary cases) are preventable,” he said. “If doors are simply locked, these burglars are moving on to easier targets.”

Vettel said that while break-ins do happen, they are usually the exception.

One of those exceptions happened this week, when thieves broke into irst National Pawn at 2305 Main Ave. early Monday morning.

After smashing a door and windows, they made off with items that would generally fit in a backpack, said Tom Dye, a pawnbroker at the store.

Dye has seen break-ins at the store before, including the time thieves burglarized the shop over Christmas.

He said the business has taken measures to discourage thieves, such as enclosing an entire side wall that once was mostly windows, but he said they’ve hesitated putting bars on windows and doors because that might be off putting to customers.

While it’s frustrating to deal with another break-in, Dye said it’s satisfying when a thief gets caught, as was the case in the earlier holiday burglary.

Vettel said if thieves aren’t nabbed in the act, they may be caught later when they try to sell the things they took.

“Typically, that’s how we find them,” he said. “They try to sell these items, one way or another.” Two men were recently arrested whom police suspect of involvement in a number of area garage burglaries, he said.

Vettel said a small number of people can cause a spike in crime stats like the 38 percent jump in burglaries this year.

“One group that’s hitting multiple targets on multiple nights can easily skew that number.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555