In the fight against burglaries, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s office posted a picture on facebook Wednesday of a suspect in rural Sutherland, caught on a home surveillance camera.
The suspect’s face is mostly covered with a motorcycle helmet and he has not been caught yet, but he might well be laying low, feeling the heat. The photo was seen by tens of thousands people in only two days.
“This fellow likes to break into houses during all times of the day and night,” the sheriff’s office said. “He likes to ride his four-wheeler up to houses when nobody is home. Currently he is working in the area just north of Sutherland.”
“If you have any idea who this is, please contact us,” the sheriff’s office said.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, the post was shared nearly 2,500 times, meaning it has had tens of thousands of readers, according to facebook statistics.
The number of burglaries in the North Platte area is shocking. In one of the most recent cases, someone burglarized a garage on West County Road near Sutherland and made off with lots of tools – about $4,000 worth.
Catching burglars is a challenge, prompting Sheriff Jerome Kramer to use facebook to enlist help from the public. Stolen merchandise scatters quickly.
If you have information about this or any crime, contact law enforcement. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s office is at 308-535-9599.You can submit information anonymously online. Click on “Submit a Tip” — or call Crimestoppers at 308-534-8400 or 800-933-TIPS.
You may call on a non-emergency police number at 308-535-6789 if you don’t wish to remain anonymous.
Here is a review of burglaries and stolen tools that have occurred since mid-September:
- On Sept. 12, police investigated a burglary at a cell tower site located south of the Sutherland I-80 interchange. Someone cut the lock and chain to the gate and then forced entry into the building. Once inside, the thief stole 10 batteries and a power washer, all valued in excess of $5,000.
- During the week of Sept. 18, someone stole tools from a vacant house and garage in the 800 block of S. Bryan in North Platte.
The tenant was moving out and the landlord was working on the house, authorities said.
The stolen items include a Snap-On Torque Wrench, Cornwell pry bar, 2 Cornwell die grinders, 2 Snap On wrench sets, a lime green Snap On air impact wrench, a camouflage air impact wrench and a Streamlight Knucklehead.
The stolen tools were valued at over $3,000.
- On Oct. 10, a victim in Calvary Hills had tools stolen from his garage, including Mac impact wrenches, drills, grinders and a chain saw. The value was around $3,000.
- During the week of Nov. 6, someone burglarized a garage in the 600 block of N. Sherman, entering through an unlocked door and stealing more than $3,000 in high quality tools.
- Between Nov. 2-13, someone broke into maintenance building at a cemetery near Maxwell and made off with $9,000 worth of equipment.
- On Nov. 20-21, four suspects were charged with stealing thousands of dollars of tools from a construction site near Lake Maloney, where a new home was being built.
One of the suspects dropped his wallet at the scene near Lake Maloney containing his identification and address, leading investigators to arrest the men, which were “the middle of a theft ring,” Kramer said.
Kramer said burglaries are linked to meth and other drugs. Stolen tools are traded for drugs or sold for cash.
Unless a burglar leaves his ID at the scene or is caught on a security camera, solving the burglaries is a difficult challenge.
Kramer advises tool owners to mark their tools with an engraver or indelible ink.
And, he said investigations would be more successful if police and sheriff investigators were working together in one office.
“Ninety percent of our crimes are related to drugs and burglaries,” he told the Bulletin in late November. “It would be nice if we had a joint drug and burglary task force. We communicate now, but we’re not always able to keep each other fully informed. We would have more success (in one office.) They would be busy.”