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Robbers target Ellis County’s new homes

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The Ellis County Press

ELLIS COUNTY - Numerous homes are being burglarized even before people move in, and it has local builders searching for how to combat the problem.

The Ellis County Sheriff's Office and cities' strict regulations, builders say, are not helping matters, but the ECSO is holding a 40-year-old man in custody officials say could clear 20 burglary cases in and around Midlothian.

'We can't give his name because he hasn't been arraigned yet, but we do have a warrant out for a second man,' said Lt. Sheriff Danny Williams.

The thefts have gotten so bad, builder Stan Nally had to hire a full-time police officer to sit in his driveway near Ferris and watch for burglars.

Many of the items being stolen recently are home appliances, such as stoves, ovens and refrigerators, sheriff officials said.

'It's hard on us,' said Williams. 'They're [thieves] not hitting us in one spot. They're hitting us on the east side, west side, central. With the manpower, you can't just sit in on one area and take calls [at the same time].

'A lot of people think that [we] take a report and we can solve it immediately. It's just real hard [to do that].'

Gaylord Haynes, past president of the Ellis County Home Builders Association, said he believes the thefts could be a part of a large-scale operation.

'The one's [thieves] I've heard about seem to know what they're doing,' he said. 'They [appeared to have] broken in and unlocked garage doors. They got in, disconnected the plumbing [and wires] and loaded up a truck and took off. I haven't had any losses personally, but I've heard of serious thefts.'

Thad Felder recently had close to $3,000 stolen in appliances last week at a house he's currently building in Waxahachie.

'It's costing us a lot of money,' he said.

Insurance, according to builders, helps pay for the stolen merchandise, but it doesn't help when part of the problem could be attributed to city regulations.

'You can't get a permanent meter [for security alarms],' said Waxahachie builder Danny Christiansen. 'It takes 45 days to get the [home] inspected. I'm not saying it's the city's fault, but it's just a policy they have. That's kind of a bad deal. They're [thieves] hitting the houses that don't have security alarms. It's bad, real bad.'

The Waxahachie Police Department, according to an official there, said new home burglary calls for the month of February alone were 200.

Haynes, who served as the first ECHBA president in 1995, said he hopes local law enforcement, city officials and curious neighbors are made even more aware of the problem.

Midlothian-and Waxahachie-area subdivisions are springing up and Williams said it's hard to patrol each one, but did say it's hard not knowing what is stolen.

He encouraged homeowners and builders to put serial numbers on all valuable items.

'Take pictures of jewelry and write down serial numbers on your microwaves, stoves and TVs,' he said. 'Then put those numbers in a safe somewhere, so that when these [items] go to a pawn shop, we'll know where to find them. When it goes to the pawn shop, we're going to find out.'

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