A Good Tool

During the last few weeks, an area of Parkersburg has been the target of more than 20 home break-ins. Many of the homes were empty at the time of the burglaries. Police, who had suspects but had not made any arrests, finally appealed to residents to call if they observed any suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

Just a few days after issuing that appeal, officers responded to such a call about a burglary in progress. This led to the arrest of Parkersburg resident Craig Ryan Clark, who was arraigned on a burglary charge. It is not known if Clark is responsible for any of the other burglaries, but police did say information obtained from his arrest could be used to close other investigations.

In what may be simply a coincidence, Belpre neighborhoods were the target of similar types of home break-ins. According to Belpre Police Patrolman A.K. Nichols, from Oct. 15, 2013, through March 15 of this year, a total of 23 burglaries and attempted burglaries were reported in that city, with at least 15 believed related.

Area law enforcement agencies have a good working relationship with each other, and, no doubt, were comparing notes on any possible similarities in these robberies. However, after nearly 45 break-ins over a six-month period on both sides of the river, perhaps the police should have asked for the public’s help a little sooner.

Police effort on the matter certainly does not warrant criticism. But, while there may be no connection, Clark’s arrest came just days after Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin made a public appeal to residents by asking them to be wary and report any suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

There is no substitute for good police work, but officers cannot be everywhere at once. Citizens, especially those who live in neighborhoods where criminal activity has been taking place, can be helpful if given the opportunity.

A good investigator will use every tool in the arsenal to bring criminals to justice. Sometimes, however, a good tool can be overlooked. While citizens should never confront potential criminals, they can, if encouraged, be another set of eyes for law enforcement.