Thieves have hit Payson and Pine vacation homes hard since the start of the new year.
In a two-week period in January, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office received reports of seven burglaries in the Pine area. In Payson, officers are investigating seven homes burglarized in the Woodhill neighborhood.
Police have made no arrests and say they have few leads.
At a Woodhill homeowners meeting Jan. 31 at the Payson Public Library, 113 residents turned out to discuss recent events. Police Chief Don Engler said the meeting generated some tips and reminded homeowners, especially part-time residents, to lock their doors and windows before leaving.
There have not been anymore reported burglaries in the Woodhill area since late January, Engler said.
In Pine, Gila County sheriff’s detective Jaime Garrett said the last known burglary was Jan. 19, but it is unclear when that one occurred since the home has not been lived in for some time.
Unlike Payson, where thieves are entering through unlocked windows and doors and taking smaller items, in Pine, thieves are more brazen.
At one home, thieves took the copper piping from under the home and at another they tried to take the air conditioning unit.
Garrett said after the copper pipe theft, they thought they would see similar thefts of piping, but that has been the only one.
An officer doing patrols discovered two of the burglaries.
“The issue is that these are not full-time residents,” she said. “
They go down (to the Valley) for the winter months and that is when they are broken into.”
All of the homes robbed in Pine are off Pine Creek Canyon Drive. The first report came on Jan. 2 and the last, Jan. 19.
At one home on Hidden Pine Loop, the thieves tried to take the air conditioner unit, but were unsuccessful. At the home where the thieves took the copper piping, they also tried to take two quads from a garage. Luckily, the quads’ batteries were dead, Garrett said.
At the five other break-ins, the suspects have taken TVs, money, collectibles and other valuables.
Entry at all of the Pine homes has been forced and the thieves are thoroughly going through each home, she said.
A neighbor stopped one burglary after they noticed people looking through the home’s windows. When the neighbor confronted the people, they took off, Garrett said.
At this time, the sheriff’s office does not believe the same person or group is responsible for the Payson and Pine burglaries, however, Garrett believes the same people or person is likely responsible for the Pine burglaries.
Unfortunately, the sheriff’s office has few clues.
Sheriff’s deputies are doing extra patrols in the area and Garrett is asking residents to check on their second homes more often.
Installing an alarm system, having a neighbor check on the home periodically and starting a block watch program are also suggested, she said.
At Portal III, neighbors have discussed installing a security gate like that at Portals I and II.