August 5, 2013

Lawrence police bust big burglary ring

Three people arrested in Lawrence are suspects in at least 20 burglaries and thefts that involved so much loot police had to rent moving trucks to store it, a police spokesman said.

The thefts involved an estimated $77,000 in stolen items, much of it taken from storage units, Lawrence Police Department Sgt. Trent McKinley said.

Investigators believe the thefts were fueled by the suspects' methamphetamine habits and say more arrests are possible, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.

The arrests of two men and a woman last Wednesday came after a three-month investigation of burglaries committed in April and May, McKinley said. In all, police believe they have solved six burglaries at A1 Self Storage, several thefts and break-ins throughout Lawrence and a series of burglaries of storage units at an apartment complex.

In several of the thefts, the suspects allegedly backed rented moving trucks up to storage units and emptied them after cutting the locks.

Two of the suspects arrested Wednesday face more than a dozen charges while the other is facing a single drug charge.

The thieves had taken so much property from storage units and residences that they had to rent their own storage units to hold the loot, McKinley said. And police had to store it in rented moving trucks parked outside the police station.

One victim, Leslie Carper, 52, reported on May 4 that someone had ransacked her storage unit, taking thousands of dollars in recording equipment and musical instruments owned by her late ex-husband. She went to the unit after an employee of the storage company called to ask if she had moved her belongings.

"When I opened the door, it was gone," Carper said. "It was big enough to park a car in, and it was empty. There was a whole studio's worth of equipment."

A1 Self Storage, which declined to comment on the burglaries, had security cameras on the premises. But the cameras were reported stolen, too.

Many of the victims, including Carper, had some, but not all, of their property returned to them, McKinley said.

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