Police respond to string of break-ins

bbashioum@demo-mo.comMarch 7, 2014 

During the months of January and February this year, Harrisonville police have investigated a string of 20 burglaries, prompting the department to warn business owners and residents to take precaution.

The spike is unusual, Harrisonville Investigations Lt. Mike Prindle said, and noted that the Cass County Sheriff’s Office has also been investigating a number of thefts lately, as well.

Of the break-ins within Harrisonville city limits, half of the crimes occurred at local businesses, while the other half were residential.

Thieves have gone after cash and electronics in their crime sprees, Prindle said.

Compared to last year, police received only four reports of burglaries during the first two months of 2013, and a total of 54 incidents were investigated throughout the year.

Prindle said police have an idea of the individuals who may be behind the thefts.

He said at least five of the cases in the last two months have been closed as a result of an arrest that was made during the final week of February based on some information provided by Bates County authorities.

“They had somebody in custody for committing a burglary and had tied them to some stuff up here,” Prindle said. “Detective (Tom) Shroyer went down and got a confession from the guy.”

Prindle said they have another suspect under investigation.

Doughboy’s Pizza owner Adam Portzen was one of the burglary victims.

His business, located at 1806 N. Commercial, Harrisonville, was robbed in early February. Thieves stole more than $500 cash and the cash drawer that it was located in, along with a few bottles of liquor.

Thieves entered his shop by breaking through a window on the back side of his business.

“They were in there long enough that they looked around and threw things,” Portzen said. “I feel that they had been in there before.”

It was the second time Portzen’s pizza shop had been broken into since he opened two and a half years ago. He said break-ins make the challenges of being a small business owner even harder.

“As a small business owner, you can’t afford to lose $500 or $600,” Portzen said.

The most recent robbery, along with some ongoing issues among his employees, and the desire to spend more time with his family, made Portzen decide to close his business.

“This deal made me feel like, ‘You know what, I don’t want to do this anymore,’” Portzen said.

Portzen hopes to send a message to other small business owners in Cass County. “Don’t leave any loose cash laying around,” he said.

Prindle said he believes the suspects may be stealing cash and pawning stolen goods to fuel their drug interests.

“In the ones that we caught, talking with them, both suspects have been tied to drug activity, where they’ve admitted to having a drug problem,” Prindle said.

He said business owners can prevent the financial impact of a break-in by not storing cash on the property, or at the very least, keep it secured in a safe.

“Never ever leave cash behind in a business or house unless you have it locked up in a secure safe,” Prindle said. “At one of the businesses, (the suspect) tried to get into the safe and they couldn’t.”

Prindle also urges property owners to make sure the exterior doors on their homes or buildings are sturdy with locks installed.

“Residential security is good common sense - making sure doors are locked, and use additional locks if you need to,” Prindle said. “Most of our stuff has been doors that have been kicked in or pried. If they need to reinforce their doors, we encourage them to do that.”

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