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Mon, Jan. 20

Highland Park residents report series of break-ins

PRESCOTT - A number of burglaries have taken place in the Copper Basin area, according to police reports and tips to the Daily Courier.

Residents in the Highland Park area have reported at least three of the burglaries to police, who told the Daily Courier this week that there is no trend and that, overall, burglaries are down.

Prescott resident Deborah Moon, 54, said she hoped to get the word out to residents in the area to take precautions. Moon said she was a victim of a break-in July 20, when an unknown suspect tried to kick open her door while she stood on the other side. The incident occurred at approximately 3:30 a.m.

Moon said she was awakened by her doorbell, but didn't answer the door due to the early hour.

"I kept looking out the window and didn't see anyone leave. I went back to bed for a little bit, then looked again and still didn't see anything, and went downstairs to the kitchen to get a glass of water," Moon said.

As she was leaving the kitchen, the suspects attempted to gain entry into the house by kicking at her door. Moon used her body to block the door, then locked herself in her bedroom moments later and called police.

"If I had not been standing right there at that moment, they would have been in my house because I would have been upstairs," Moon said.

When police arrived, they could not locate a suspect in the area, but found two doors kicked in and Moon's vehicle burglarized, the police report said.

"The police spent about two hours out here," Moon said. "I had to repair two doors and can't sleep at night. Every little sound is terrifying."

Moon, who lives alone, said she's concerned about others living in the area who might not be able to repel a forced entry.

Another victim is Nancy Marks, 61, who lives across the street from Moon. She said a few days before Moon's break-in, on July 16, someone broke open a door to her home, also at 3:30 a.m., and stole a high-end bicycle.

Marks said she thinks the burglars were scared off by noise she made when she woke up and went to see what had happened.

"Quite honestly, I thought it was probably my cats fooling around," she said.

The report by the initial officer who responded said, "I checked the immediate area and noted that nothing was found that could possibly assist in this investigation."

Marks said that, later in the day, she found an unfamiliar beverage can on the property, and called police back. An officer came out and took fingerprints and a DNA sample from it.

"And that's the last I've heard from anyone," Marks said.

Prescott Police spokes-man Lt. Tim Fletcher said they don't see a pattern.

"I surely know there's not been a rash of (break-ins)," Fletcher said. "If there had been a rash of burglaries in an area with a common M.O. and time period, we would be all over that."

He said that he was able to locate information about three incidents in that general area within days of each other, and that two of them were Moon's and Marks' homes, but said there have been no reported incidents in the area since.

But Officer Patrick Mora, in explaining that he sent fingerprints taken from Moon's vehicle to the DPS crime lab on July 23, wrote in a report that "...we had several burglaries in the same area with the suspect progressing in there (sic) violent tendencies."

The prints were not found in the FBI's national criminal database, he reported.

Fletcher said the break-ins were classified as burglaries, not home invasions.

"A home invasion is when somebody breaks into someone's house and forcefully takes something from someone, or commits an assault, or a kidnapping," he said, so the incidents were still burglaries despite the fact that a resident was home at the time.

Lt. Ken Morley said there were actually "very few burglaries occurring anywhere in Prescott."

Multiple attempts to reach Prescott Police Chief Jerald Monahan for comment Tuesday night before press time were unsuccessful.

Courier reporter Patrick Whitehurst contributed to this story.

Follow reporter Scott Orr on Twitter @AZNewsguy.

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