Commercial burglaries continue to hit Cape businesses

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rewards for information often come with the disclaimer -- no questions asked. But those who hope to get their hands on John Michel's money are going to have to talk.

Michel, who owns Moonwalker Rental, said Wednesday he'll need a few answers before he gives up the $1,000 he's offering in exchange for information that will help him recover $12,000 in equipment stolen during the weekend.

"I'm going to need some answers," Michel said Wednesday.

Michel and his wife, Debbie, went to their storage unit on Optimist Drive on Sunday to find it had been looted of several items their business offers for children's parties and other events. The culprits had cut through a fence and a lock, and stolen items from them and from seven other units.

Michel said they were devastated.

"If they had gotten away with anything else, it would have done us in," Michel said. "We really were just blown away."

Other Cape Girardeau business owners probably can relate. A rash of commercial burglaries has hit Cape Girardeau in recent weeks, with burglars forcing their way in to establishments in a hunt for money and items.

While police technically don't consider Michel's incident a burglary because it didn't happen on his business' property, there have been seven businesses hit since Nov. 1 that do constitute burglaries. During that same period in 2011, only two such burglaries took place.

On Monday, Orscheln Farm and Home was the seventh business to report a burglary or attempted burglary, according to Cape Girardeau Police Department spokesman Darin Hickey. The store at 338 Christine St. originally reported property damage Nov. 28 after a fence was cut. When it reported a log splitter was missing, Hickey said, the store was added to the list.

The cases are still under investigation, Hickey said.

He said the numbers only seem high because the burglaries are taking place in clusters. For example, 123 nonresidential burglaries were reported this year as of Dec. 5. In 2011, 129 nonresidential burglaries were reported, the numbers include organizations and medical offices.

That they are happening so close together, Hickey said, does raise a red flag. While some people may want to assume all the burglaries are being committed by the same perpetrators, investigators are assuming nothing.

"We try to leave the blinders off," Hickey said. "We leave it wide open and try to investigate thoroughly. There's nothing at this point that we can say it's definitely one way or the other."

Officers are reviewing security videos, looking over crime scenes for evidence and interviewing business owners, Hickey said. He declined to comment on whether the department has identified suspects.

"If I did, it might hinder the investigation," Hickey said. "If we told you we had suspects, the suspects would take off. But people should know we're doing everything we can."

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Map of pertinent addresses

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