Burglars Prey On Churchgoers


While you spend time in church on Sunday worshiping, thieves are busy burglarizing cars in the parking lot.

Burglary, for the most part, is a crime of opportunity. During the past 12 days, six businesses and six vehicles have been burglarized in Payson. Five of the businesses are located on the Beeline Highway. The sixth was the U.S. Forest Service office on Highway 260.

The burglars are forcing entry through doors and windows into the various businesses during the night with the target being money.

Three of the vehicle burglaries were in church parking lots on Sundays while services were being held. The others occurred in the parking lot of the hospital, a business on Main Street and in front of a residence in Payson North. All of the vehicles were unlocked leading to theft of stereos, compact discs, radar detectors and other items that could be easily and quickly taken.

Thieves are looking for cash and items they can turn into quick cash, according to Lt. Don Engler of the Payson Police Department. Statistics compiled by the police department show these types of burglaries traditionally escalate in number prior to the holiday season.

"We have seen this type of criminal activity on the increase year after year during this time," Engler said.

Police are requesting the public to be diligent in securing their vehicles, homes and businesses.

"A lot of these burglaries appear to be crimes of opportunity," Engler said.

He encourages people to lock their cars and place valuable items in their trunk or remove them entirely. Cell phones, wallets, purses, custom stereos and compact discs are prime targets for thieves, especially if they are in plain view, even if your doors are locked.

Parking your vehicle in a busy or well-lighted area at night will also help.

Payson police investigated several burglaries last year where vehicles were parked behind or on the side of a business. Entry was often made by breaking out a window

Engler encourages all business owners to not leave cash in their place of business when they close for the night or weekend.

"Hiding cash is not an option," Engler said. "Leave your cash register open, especially if it is visible from the exterior of your building."

Engler also suggested business owners invest in an alarm system and do a security check of their interior and exterior.

"If they would like assistance and tips on securing a home or business, they can call me and I will make arrangements for someone from the department to meet with them," Engler said.

The police department is asking the public to be aware of suspicious people in and around their neighborhoods and local businesses.

"We believe (the burglars) are on foot late at night and in the early morning hours," Engler said. "If you see someone suspicious, please call us. We would rather come out and find it to be an explainable situation than not receive a call."

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