Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Mar 29, 2017

Rash of burglaries reported in area

Postal service offers $1,000 reward for information leading to arrest of burglar
By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Feb 22, 2017

Southeast Iowa has suffered a string of burglaries in the past two weeks that have local law enforcement agencies scrambling for leads.

Agency’s public library/post office, Batavia’s post office and Moore’s Grocery in Douds all reported break-ins Monday morning. Since post offices were among those burglarized, the United States Postal Inspection Service is assisting local law enforcement on the case.

U.S. Postal Inspector Masami Knox wrote in a press release today there is a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the post office burglaries.

Other parts of Jefferson County reported burglaries Monday morning, too. Two chainsaws were stolen from a farm shop in the 1700 block of Hemlock Avenue, padlocks were cut at the Batavia Haunted House but nothing was stolen, and the crew at the construction site on Highway 34 between Batavia and Fairfield reported a theft of power tools and a torch.

Jefferson County Lieutenant Jerry Marcellus said the burglaries marked the second weekend in a row that several offices or businesses were broken into. On the morning of Feb. 13, the sheriff’s office received three reports of burglaries to Jefferson County businesses.

The Village Vet, a few miles east of Fairfield, reported a break-in, a theft of less than $100 and a theft of veterinary drugs. Noah’s Ark of Jefferson County reported a burglary and theft of $100-$200. Jefferson County Quarry was the third burglary victim on the list, and reported about $200 in cash missing.

Marcellus said the sheriff’s office is working closely with its counterparts in Wapello and Van Buren counties to see if the same person or people are behind the rash of burglaries.

“I don’t want to speculate on whether it’s an individual or a group,” he said. “So far, we do not have any eye witnesses, but I’m not sure about other counties.”

Fairfield Police Chief David Thomas said his department is investigating a series of burglaries in the city limits, though they occurred on different dates from the other burglaries in the county.

On Feb. 2, a safe with numerous items in it was stolen from a residence on Sunset Drive in Fairfield. Binghimon’s Caribbean Kitchen reported a break-in Feb. 8 and about $300 in cash missing.

The following week, a business in the 1700 block of South Main Street reported a break-in and about $100 in cash missing. Taco Johns in Fairfield reported a break-in with about $1,000 in cash missing on Feb. 14.

A storage shed was reportedly broken into on West Lowe Ave that same day and tires and rims were stolen. A vehicle in the Walmart parking lot was broken into and a purse stolen on Friday.

Thomas said it would not surprise him if the burglaries in Fairfield and the surrounding area are related.

Wapello County Sheriff’s Office deputy Todd Evans said his office has been in contact with a witness to the break-in at the Agency public library/post office. He said another burglary in Wapello County, this one in Eldon, was reported Monday night, though he couldn’t comment on whether it was related to the burglaries in the other towns.

Evans said that less than $100 was taken from the public library section of the Agency building that also houses the post office and city hall.

Van Buren County Sheriff chief deputy Brad Hudson said the break-in at Moore’s Grocery in Douds was reported at 7:45 a.m. Monday, though he was not aware of anything being taken from the store.

“We believe it is related to the break-ins in Agency and Batavia,” he said. “It could be a coincidence, but that is highly unlikely.”

Hudson said his department has not identified any eyewitnesses to the grocery store burglary.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 472-3576. The Wapello County Sheriff’s Office number is 641-684-4350, and the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office is 319-293-3426.

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