RACINE COUNTY — A Racine police officer stood holding a gun in front of a house while two others searched the backyard.
There had just been a report of a burglary in the 500 block of 11th Street and the offenders had fled the scene.
That was Tuesday and, by the end of the day, one person had been taken into custody and at least one other person was still at large.
But pursuing the case doesn’t stop there. A newly formed burglary task force continues the work officers start on these types of cases, coordinating with other jurisdictions in Racine County to try to reduce burglaries.
“So many of our offenders cross jurisdictions,” said Lt. Todd Schulz, a supervisor in the Racine Police Department’s Detective Bureau, who is involved with the task force.
The idea behind the task force is that it gives different departments a chance to share information. Also, someone who commits a crime in Racine may have burglarized a house in Caledonia and, by talking about the crimes, law enforcement may see patterns or have tips for each other to help catch offenders.
Since the task force formed mid-summer this year, the city’s Police Department has met several times with representatives from other jurisdictions including the county Sheriff’s Office, Mount Pleasant Police Department, Caledonia Police Department and the county District Attorney’s Office.
Over the past few years, the Racine Police Department has seen a decrease in the number of violent crimes like murder and aggravated assaults, Schulz said. The number of burglaries, on the other hand, has stayed consistent and Schulz said they are working on changing that.
“It’s one of those crimes where people really feel violated when someone has been inside their home,” Schulz said.
Sgt. Martin Pavilonis of the Racine Police Department said following reports of burglaries such as the one on Tuesday, the new task force can give different departments an opportunity to pass information on to each other that may be helpful. For instance, other municipalities may know who the one known suspect associates with, Pavilonis said.
Also, Sgt. Brian Wall of the Caledonia Police Department said by working together they can find items in one municipality that have been stolen from another. For instance, Wall said they have found jewelry and electronics stolen from other municipalities and “(other departments) have recovered ours, too.”
The different departments have worked together in the past on burglary investigations, Wall said, but now it’s more formalized.
While Wall believes the task force will be able to help reduce burglaries, he said residents also have to do their part. During the holiday season, he said, property crimes such as thefts and burglaries tend to spike. He cautioned residents need to keep their doors locked, report suspicious activities and keep valuables in their vehicles out of sight.