PARKERSBURG - Several north Parkersburg residents awoke Thursday morning to find Christmas decorations missing from their front yards and porches.
At least three homes in a neighborhood near 34th and Broad streets were targets of early morning thefts, said Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin.
Police are viewing a surveillance video taken from the front porch of Connie Schutts, 3501 Broad St., which shows a female subject stealing several solar lights and a wreath around 1 a.m. Thursday.
Woman caught on video stealing Christmas decorations from a house
"I went outside to let my dog out and sweep off the front porch, when I realized all my lights were missing," said Schutts. "That's when I checked my security camera and sure enough, the whole thing was caught on tape."
The video shows a female subject gathering solar lights from the front porch and attempting to unplug a spiral lighted Christmas tree. A vehicle driven by another subject is pictured in the corner of the screen. The subjects, who sound like a male and female, can be heard speaking to each other on the video.
About a dozen solar lights and a wreath were taken from Schutts's porch.
Surveillance cameras captured video of a female subject stealing solar lights around 1 a.m. Thursday from the front porch of 3501 Broad St., the residence of Connie Schutts.
"There have been problems in this neighborhood for a while. It started a couple years ago with vandalism, and that's why I got the security cameras installed," she said. "Every Halloween my decorations would end up scattered out in the street and my car tires were slashed two years ago. I had enough, and I got these cameras."
Schutts said the night images caught on camera appear pixelated and grainy, and the license plate number of the vehicle is not visible.
"I told my security company I wanted to upgrade to the night vision technology," she said. "I don't care about the cost. What I'm paying for is peace of mind."
Robert Moore, 1705 34th St., said sometime in the night, a $150 inflatable snow globe and three decorative glass balls were taken from his yard. One glass ball was shattered on the street in front of his home.
Moore said the thefts are disturbing.
"This is a wonderful neighborhood. I've lived here 18 years," he said. "We always try to watch out for each other, but people are getting scared. We've been leaving our lights on at night; several people have surveillance cameras. It's just frustrating."
Moore said neighbors have had a few meetings about the thefts.
"We may have to start up a neighborhood crime watch group and get some signs up," he said. "For the past couple years, we've really been running our own kind of watch group. We look for suspicious people and keep our lights on."
Two other homes, one in the 3400 block of Packard Street, were targeted Thursday morning. An inflatable decoration and lights were taken from the front yard.
Martin said the police department is aware of the problem and will review the surveillance tape.
"Car breaking and enterings are a problem in this area, and we know these incidences are aggravating," he said. "The main thing is to identify the problem and saturate that area with additional officers, whether on foot, bike or cruiser."
Martin said 10 individuals connected with citywide breaking and enterings were arrested this year.
"We want to urge people to report any thefts, breaking and enterings and suspicious occurrences, no matter what time of the day or night. Many times in this area, the perpetrators will just go from car to car, checking for unlocked vehicles and taking whatever they find inside," he said.
Sgt. Greg Nangle, Parkersburg Police Department, said residents should keep lights on at night, lock car doors and keep gifts and valuables inside the house in a secure location.
"We used to tell people, thieves usually won't steal what they can't see," he said. "But these days, most newer cars had a trunk switch right inside the cab, making it easier to access that secure area where you might be storing gifts for safekeeping."
Nangle said most thefts and breaking and enterings occur at night.
"These people have 13 hours of darkness to commit these crimes," he said. "Most thieves probably realize that the holiday season, more than any other time of year, presents more opportunities to steal decorations and find valuable gifts in cars and homes."