Burglaries leave Lovelock locals concerned

Burglaries  leave Lovelock locals concerned

Burglaries leave Lovelock locals concerned

After a string of home burglaries near Lovelock and Oreana, a suspect was jailed by the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office with possibly more to come. Lovelock resident Matthew Koehler was taken into custody last month, but other suspects are still under investigation, according to Sheriff Jerry Allen.

About four or five burglaries in the rural part of the county in one month is not normal in Pershing County, Allen said. The crimes may involve more than one thief, but burglary reports have recently “calmed down” since the arrest of Koehler, who has a history of alleged criminal activities, according to Allen. He said more arrests of suspected burglars may follow as the investigation continues.

“We did have a rash of burglaries going on,” Allen told county leaders recently. “We arrested one person for those, but there are numerous other suspects associated with a couple of the burglaries and we are still investigating. The calls have gone down since we took the one suspect into custody, but we’ll see how long that lasts.”

Koehler faces felony counts of burglary and obtain or possess a credit card without the owner’s consent as well as a misdemeanor charge of petty larceny. After his first appearance in justice court on September 29, Koehler was released by the court on his own recognizance. Koehler’s preliminary hearing scheduled for October 12 was continued at the request of Public Defender Steve Cochran.

“We arrested Koehler for one burglary, but he’s a potential suspect in a couple of other ones,” Allen said. “The stolen items were mostly household goods and personal items and some of the items have been recovered. There are witnesses and there’s some photographic and video evidence that we will be taking to court — but whether it’s allowed in court will be up to the judge and the attorneys.”

Allen said the suspected burglary ring could still pose a threat to property owners in the area.

“There’s more than just him (Koehler). He’s the only one that’s been arrested so far but there seems to be a group of people that are working together to initiate this criminal activity,” Allen said. “We’re asking the community to let us know if anyone sees anything suspicious.”

There have been several reports of suspicious vehicles. Allen said residents should watch out for vehicles that are “not normally in your neighborhood or stopping at houses for prolonged periods, especially if they’re just in the street and don’t make contact with any of the homeowners.”

“People taking pictures of other people’s houses. Any suspicious activity like that,” he said. Allen wouldn’t say how many burglary suspects are being investigated by the sheriff’s office. “The investigation is ongoing and there are numerous suspects — more than three but less than a hundred.”

Burglaries have also been reported in Lovelock. Allen reminded the public that criminal investigations take time since the city police and the sheriff’s office have no detectives to work the evidence needed in court. Investigations are by police officers and deputies when they are not too busy with “hot calls.”

“The problem is that both of our agencies are so limited in manpower, we don’t have somebody we can dedicate to conducting crime investigations,” he said. “Those investigations are in-depth and they take time and resources that my office and the city police department just don’t have. It takes us longer to solve a burglary or pretty much any crime than it would a larger-sized police department.”

Allen recommends that residents keep all valuables locked up and out of sight. Serial numbers on guns, computers, electronics and other items should be documented in case they are stolen, he said.

“The bad thing is that locks only keep honest people honest,” he said. “If somebody wants your stuff, and they want it bad enough, they’ll get it. There’s things that you can do and one of the biggest things is to document your serial numbers. That way, if it gets stolen, we can list it on the NCIC computer.”

Allen said it’s also important for neighbors to build relationships and “watch out for each other.” Security video has limited value as evidence unless the suspects’ identities are “crystal clear,” he said.

“Sometimes, just having video cameras is a deterrent, but don’t depend on it for being your end-all, be-all because it won’t be,” Allen said. “Also, remember that punishment is commensurate with the crime. Property crimes are not crimes where you can just go out and start causing death to people.”

It is unlawful to defend property with lethal force but home invasion is another story, Allen said.

“If somebody breaks into your home illegally, that’s a little different,” he said. “If they have gotten into your house, the law recognizes there’s an attempt there to probably do somebody harm.”