Carbondale ‘not Mayberry anymore’
August 2, 2012
CARBONDALE – Carbondale residents need to be more cautious about their personal and home security, says Police Chief Gene Schilling.
The Carbondale Police Department is investigating several car thefts and house break-ins that happened in recent weeks. Schilling believes it’s an indication that people have been lax lately.
“We’re trying to get the message out that it’s not Mayberry anymore,” said Schilling. He is urging residents and businesses to lock their doors and be more vigilant about security.
“When I first started here in 1983, it was Mayberry,” Schilling said, in reference to the 1960s television series about a small-town, easy-going sheriff and his befuddled deputy.
Schilling’s department on Tuesday issued a public service announcement warning residents to lock the doors to their homes and to remove the keys and lock their vehicles to prevent burglaries and thefts.
To support his call for vigilance, Schilling noted that resident Leslie Johnson’s 2006 VW Jetta was stolen from the alley behind her house on Colorado Avenue, at about 11:30 p.m. on July 20.
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The thief made off with Johnson’s car while she watched from her house, as she was talking to a police dispatcher and waiting for police to arrive. It’s a circumstance that has caused some to question the police department’s competence.
“I live right down the alley from the cops,” she said. “I just can’t believe they couldn’t get the guy.”
Johnson said she used to feel safe in Carbondale.
“I don’t feel safe now, because of the performance of our cops,” she said. “What if I were being violently attacked? Would they have gotten there in time?”
Schilling said Johnson’s car has not been recovered yet, but noted that two other recently stolen vehicles have been recovered. In all three cases, the cars had been left unlocked with the keys inside.
A car reported stolen from the Wheel Circle neighborhood on July 11, was found abandoned in the El Jebel area and towed by the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
Schilling said Carbondale officers recovered the car and returned it to its owner after they learned it was sitting in the county impound lot. There are no suspects in the case, Schilling added.
A pickup truck stolen from the Village Lane neighborhood on July 16 was recovered by the Colorado State Patrol during a traffic stop in Glenwood Springs, according to the Carbondale police. A juvenile was arrested and charged over the incident.
Schilling also cited two recent break-ins of homes that were left unlocked.
One occurred at a townhouse on Colorado Avenue near the Sopris Mini Storage facility at about 10:30 p.m. on July 22.
The other was at a single family house on Morrison Street, shortly after 10 p.m. on July 23.
In both cases, Schilling said, cash or jewelry were stolen, and police believe both burglaries were committed by people familiar with the premises.
But there are no suspects at this time. He does not see the incidents as a crime wave, or even related to each other.
“It’s just more that we’re having one of those blips that we have now and then,” he said, referring to an up-tick in the frequency of thefts and other crimes.
Part of the problem, he said, is “a lot of people think that they can leave their houses unlocked.”
In his 15 years as chief, added to the 16 years he was a patrol officer for the department, Schilling said Carbondale has gone through a gradual rise in the number and seriousness of crimes committed in town.
In the past, he said, “You might go a whole week and you’d never get a call.” The department of six officers did traffic control, cruised around town and checked to be sure that businesses were locked up at night.
Now Carbondale’s 14 officers do considerably more criminal investigations and a lot of building checks to monitor the security of a growing number of businesses.