Police say they have nabbed the group responsible for at least a dozen burglaries near Woodhill over the past month.
On Friday, officers arrested four people, including three juveniles, on various charges, after a routine traffic stop led police to several homes full of stolen property.
A vehicle caught the attention of Payson officer Nate Mullins early Friday morning, said Chief Don Engler. When the driver made a traffic violation, Mullins pulled the car over and spotted suspicious items inside. Engler could not say what those items were, but officers eventually found several stolen items in the car.
Along with Mullins and the department’s investigations unit, the group learned the case involved more stolen property and several people beyond the two in the vehicle.
Officers went to several homes and recovered 80 to 90 percent of property taken from at least a dozen homes in roughly the past month.
Crime of opportunity
Engler said it appears the group of acquaintances preyed on unlocked vehicles and homes in the Woodhill neighborhood.
They did not force entry into any of the homes or vehicles. In one unlocked vehicle, the group reportedly found house keys and went inside.
“It was an opportunistic type of thing,” Engler said. “Their intent was to go out and see what they could find to steal.”
Engler said the burglars needed money to feed a drug habit. Last year, police investigated a string of home and vehicle burglaries in which the thieves also targeted unlocked vehicles or homes with open windows.
This group reportedly took at least two firearms, one of which has been recovered.
The best thing residents can do to protect their homes and property is lock their doors and roll up their windows, Engler said.
“It will save us all a lot of work.”