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Burglars targeting empty homes, say Troup County and LaGrange investigators

Officials seek suspects stealing appliances

Melanie Ruberti

mruberti@civitasmedia.com

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LaGRANGE — A string of burglaries involving stolen kitchen appliances has LaGrange police and Troup County sheriff’s investigators looking for more clues about who is committing the strange crimes, and why.

According to both agencies, suspects are taking “large-ticket” items like refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers. All of the homes are vacant and are listed on the market as either for sale or for rent. But both law enforcement agencies said that is where the similarities in the crimes end.

“The defined M.O. (method of operation) is what they’re stealing, not how they’re doing it,” said LaGrange Police Department Sgt. William Nelson. “We’ve had them from one side of the county to the other … (the burglars) are fairly random on where they’re hitting.”

“We’re concentrating patrols is those areas, but there’s no real pattern,” said Capt. Mike Caldwell with the Troup County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s just very sporadic.”

LaGrange Police Department and the Troup County Sheriff’s Office are now working a joint investigation in hopes of catching suspects.

The problem – so far, the thieves have not drawn a lot of attention to themselves.

Nelson said there have been 15 burglaries in vacant homes throughout July. But investigators are not sure when the crimes are actually committed because it may be days before a homeowner or real estate agent visits the house and discovers the missing merchandise.

Nelson is hoping folks living next door to vacant homes will be vigilant of who is coming and going from these properties.

“We want the public to be on the lookout for anyone out of place and anyone at place up for sale, particularly people with moving trucks, large SUVs – anything used to move large appliances,” he explained. “If they see someone move appliances, call 911 with as much information and as much detail as they can. Do not approach them and don’t let them know they’re calling the police. If there are businesses and residents with video surveillance nearby (a burglary), we would be interested in having that too.”

Both investigators said they have reached out to the local Realtors association as well, asking them to keep an eye on their listings and visit homes more frequently. Both departments are also running more patrols.

Any LaGrange residents with information on these burglaries is asked to call the LaGrange Police Department at 706-883-2603 and ask for Sgt. William Nelson, and unincorporated Troup County residents are asked to call the sheriff’s office at 706-883-1616 and ask for Capt. Mike Caldwell.

You can also anonymously message each department through their Facebook pages or call the Crimestoppers tip line at 706-812-1000.

LEAVE A TIP

Any LaGrange residents with information on these burglaries is asked to call the LaGrange Police Department at 706-883-2603 and ask for Sgt. William Nelson, and unincorporated Troup County residents are asked to call the sheriff’s office at 706-883-1616 and ask for Capt. Mike Caldwell. You can also anonymously message each department through their Facebook pages or call the Crimestoppers tip line at 706-812-1000.

Melanie Ruberti is the public safety reporter for LaGrange Daily News. She can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.