Burglaries hit six-year low in 2012
BY AMANDA BLAND World Staff Writer
Monday, January 21, 2013
1/21/13 at 7:22 AM
The number of burglaries reported in Tulsa last year is expected to hit a six-year low.
Burglary Sgt. Shellie Wood-Seibert attributes the drop to increased teamwork within the unit and throughout the police department.
Residential and commercial burglaries exceeded 7,000 in 2010 and 2011, but the unofficial total for 2012 sits at 6,367, Wood-Seibert told the Tulsa World during a recent interview.
Reports tend to trickle in, especially through the department's website, for days or weeks after a burglary so that number could increase slightly, she said.
The total does not include incidents of burglary from vehicles, which are classified as larcenies.
The total number of larceny reports in Tulsa is expected to level out near 12,253, which is 117 more incidents than the previous year. Burglaries from vehicles accounted for 44 percent of larcenies in 2012, according to the department's data.
Burglaries are down significantly, and "our arrests are up," she said. Detectives are "getting more information and acting on it."
Wood-Seibert has been with the unit about 18 months and relies heavily on crime trend analysis and patrol officer-detective relationships to crack down on break-ins.
"The way to be the most effective is to be connected to the patrol officers," she said. "We really try to align ourselves as much as possible with the field.
"For too long there's been a division (between detectives and field officers). ... When people (within the department) feel like we're working together, they're more willing to help out."
The added rapport gives beat officers and detectives the chance to compare notes for a more detailed picture of how burglaries are happening in an area and what suspect information is available, she said.
Computerized crime trend analysis pulls data from police reports that the department's four crime analysts can then present to officers at shift meetings.
Before the analyst positions were added, information was posted on a bulletin board and was easy to ignore, Wood-Seibert said.
"Now, every detective sees every report," she said of the burglary unit.
The unit made a targeted effort to prevent burglaries during the recent holiday season by bringing in four patrol officers to seek out and arrest burglary suspects. With the added help, police arrested 49 people and cleared 22 cases.
Wood-Seibert plans to conduct a similar effort when burglaries routinely peak in mid-summer.
Without the additional units, she oversees eight detectives and two corporals who work about 1,000 burglary and larceny from vehicle cases a month.
Wood-Seibert advises Tulsa residents speak to strangers through the front door without opening it because most burglars aren't looking to steal from an occupied home. Locking doors, including the entrance from the garage into your home, and remembering to bring your garage door opener inside with you can be deterrents since burglaries are often crimes of opportunity, she said.
When encountering a burglar inside your home, prioritize your safety by either finding a safe place, likely outside the home if escape is possible, or getting protection, such as a gun, if you're in immediate danger.
"It's not good to confront someone (because) you don't know if they're armed or not," she said. "You just don't know the mind of the person you're dealing with."
If a burglar is brazen enough to break into an occupied home, they're usually capable of violence, she said, adding that if you have a firearm you need to be willing to use it.
Dorothy Bumgardner was asleep in her home near 32nd Street and Memorial Drive when a burglar threw a brick through two French doors in her dining room on Dec. 22.
The noise from across her ranch-style home didn't awaken her, but the sound of the thief pilfering through her bathroom did.
"It was about 3:30 in the morning. I kind of roused up and thought, 'What's all that commotion?' " she said.
Bumgardner came out of her room and found a burglar within arm's reach of her at the end of a small hallway.
"I said, 'Just what are you doing in my house?' I was really loud and gruff. He then swung around and ... grabbed his gun," she said.
He told her to "just back off" and ran back out the French doors.
She called police and said officers were at her door almost instantaneously.
"It could have ended very badly if he had panicked," Wood-Seibert said.
Bumgardner came to the same realization after the shock of crime began to wear off.
"I wasn't scared until about two days later. ... I realized all the bad things he could have done to me, and how fortunate I was that he turned around and left," Bumgardner said.
Bumgardner has a security system that she hadn't activated that evening - a mistake she said she won't make again.
Justin Kyle Barberousse, 23, of San Antonio, Texas, was arrested two hours later after officers received a report of larceny from a vehicle in the same area and spotted a man matching the suspect's description near 31st Street and Memorial Drive, according to the arrest report.
Bumgardner identified Barberousse as the man she encountered in her home.
She said the only items taken before the burglar fled the scene were costume jewelry.
"Everything turns out for the best. I'm willing to give up my window and my costume jewelry to get him off the street," she said.
High-profile break-ins belie lower number
Despite a drop in the number of burglaries, high-profile break-ins dominated local news last spring.
A Tulsa police officer shot and killed Phillip Steven Doll, 25, who'd been named a person of interest in the murder of 22-year-old Natalie Anne Davis, during a burglary March 20.
Davis' family members found her around 11 a.m., and police publicly named Doll as a person of interest hours later.
Doll was shot when officers responded to a burglary in progress in the 900 block of East 36th Street around 8:15 p.m. A police spokesman said the responding officers saw Doll hovering over a 65-year-old woman who was pleading with him not to be hurt.
Doll then reportedly lunged at officers and was fatally shot.
The shooting occurred within days of a brutal home invasion near Harvard Avenue and Virgin Street.
Bob and Nancy Strait were found beaten inside their home on March 14.
Nancy Strait, 84, died of her injuries the next day. Bob Strait, 89, died on May 4. Homicide detectives said his death was not a result of injuries suffered during the attack.
Tyrone Woodfork, 20, has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon as well as two counts each of armed robbery and first-degree rape.
The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office recently said they will review whether to seek the death penalty against Woodfork.
The best way to reach Tulsa Police Department's burglary detectives is by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, said Sgt. Shellie Wood-Seibert.
Burglary reports can be submitted online at tulsaworld.com/reportacrime.
Original Print Headline: Home security
Amanda Bland 918-581-8413
Dorothy Bumgardner stands at the door that was broken into during a robbery last month. When she confronted a man in her house, he grabbed his gun and fled. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World
Dorothy Bumgardner looks at her empty jewelry box last week. A robber broke into her home in December and stole some costume jewelry before fleeing. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World