Beaufort News

Burton neighborhood sees increase in break-ins in December

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A Burton neighborhood has seen a sharp increase in burglaries this month, and no suspects have been identified, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

Fourteen of the almost 100 homes in Iron Gate, a subdivision near Laurel Bay, were broken into in December, Lt. Col. Bill Neill said.

It's a quiet neighborhood with a lot of strangers, said a resident whose home was broken into this month and asked not to be named. Many residents are in the military, and the homes have a high turnover rate, she said.

The woman said she left for the holidays and returned home three days later to find her back glass door shattered. However, nothing in her home appeared to be stolen.

"I just don't understand the purpose behind the robberies," she said. "I've thought about seeing if there's any interest in starting up a neighborhood watch. As neighbors, we need to engage more to make us more aware of who's coming in and out."

She said the neighborhood seemed safer when she moved in 15 years ago, but criminal activity has increased over the past few years. With the recent rash of incidents, many residents are investing in security systems, she said.

This year, Iron Gate has seen a spike in burglaries every two to three months, Neill said. Although he couldn't give specific numbers, Neill said this month has seen far more break-ins than usual.

The suspects have made forced entry into the homes from the back -- breaking either a window or glass door -- when residents were away, Neill said. Smaller, easy-to-carry items such as money and jewelry were stolen, while larger, valuable items were left behind.

"It's a crime of opportunity," Neill said.

Investigators are running crime analysis reports to try to identify possible suspects or motives, but so far have found little.

"We don't have anything right now that's telling us why this is occurring," Neill said.

The Sheriff's Office has increased patrols in the neighborhood, and more investigators have been assigned to the cases, Neill said.

Residents in or near Iron Gate are encouraged to report any suspicious people or vehicles to the Sheriff's Office at 843-524-2777.

"It doesn't matter how small the information may seem," Neill said. "It could help us tremendously."

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