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Thefts, burglaries skyrocket as burglars look for open garage doors, unlocked entrances

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By Jacquelyn Stoess Hack and Marion Taylor

Police are investigating eight daytime burglaries within an eight-hour span in Pewee Valley, a series of vehicle break-ins in Crystal Lake and a host of other reports of burglary and theft in the past two weeks as officials work to rectify a growing problem.

Oldham County Police Detective Chris Morris said burglars entered eight homes on Mount Mercy Drive, Old Floydsburg Road and Maple Avenue on July 28, marking a summer when burglaries have increased 31 percent – 126 this year and 95 in 2010.

Oldham County Police Chief Greg Smith said items commonly reported missing after a break-in include TVs, computers, laptops, video game systems and jewelry.

Smith suggests that residents log the serial numbers of their possessions.

OCPD detectives have recovered some of the victims’ stolen items in local pawn shops.

Morris said detectives recently solved a series of burglaries in the Westport area spanning May to late July, only to find out that the man charged with the bulk of the crimes – 22-year-old Dustin Kimberlin – spread word to other alleged thieves of how to easily burglarize a home.

Police believe as many as five others have been burglarizing homes independently, although on the advice of Kimberlin.

Kimberlin is no stranger to breaking and entering.

Police say his father, Jack Kimberlin, is a known burglar in Oldham, Henry, Shelby and Trimble counties, and he’s on the run.

Police have a warrant for the elder Kimberlin’s arrest.

His son is no longer in custody at the Oldham County Jail. He is scheduled to appear in Oldham district court for arraignment.

The younger Kimberlin told police that his father would take him along as a youngster during crime sprees, and he believes his father is responsible for a string of recent thefts and burglaries on Jericho Road in the area of Cedar Lake Lodge.

Many homeowners who became victims of burglary in recent weeks say they left a garage door open, windows unlatched or entrances unlocked, giving burglars multiple entrances to an empty home.

Police say trends show that local burglars target homes in daylight hours – a span of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. – when many homeowners are away at work.

Morris describes a scenario that has been repeated throughout Oldham County lately.

First, burglars knock on the front door and look through windows for signs of activity – one reason Morris recommends keeping blinds and curtains closed.

If no one answers, burglars knock on a back door or side entrance and peek through other windows to find out if the home is occupied.

If a home appears to be empty, and especially if burglars spot electronics or other items that could bring quick cash in a pawn shop, they kick-in a back door.

Other would-be burglars pitch themselves as door-to-door sales people on the off chance that they encounter a homeowner.

Legitimate salespeople will have a permit issued by Oldham County Police.

The county’s peddlers’ ordinance requires that salespeople carry a photo ID and visible nametag.

Morris said to notify police via Oldham County Dispatch (222-0111) immediately if they encounter salespeople without identification or see unfamiliar vehicles parked outside their home.

OCPD Chief Greg Smith said an incident in Jefferson County put residents on high alert as two individuals wearing  General Electric uniforms  attempted to sell home security systems door-to-door.

But GE doesn’t offer security systems, and police learned the men used the uniforms as a cover to case homes and attempt burglaries.

In Pewee Valley, witnesses spotted several vehicles in the area July 28 that police believe are connected with the burglaries: a black van, a silver ford Taurus, a gold two-door passenger car and a black Jeep Grand Cherokee with a work ladder on it.

Burglaries quickly became the topic of conversation during a Pewee Valley town council meeting Monday night, and Mayor Bob Rogers said the crimes are surprising.

“It’s amazing how much nerve they have to do this in broad daylight,” he said.

E-mail us about this story at: editor@oldhamera.com.