Break-ins plague downtown streets, worry neighbors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 19, 2007

NATCHEZ — John White knew something was amiss when he heard what sounded like a Christmas ornament falling off the tree at 3:30 Tuesday morning.

“My wife and I looked at each other and we both thought, ‘That sounded like a weird noise,’” he said.

Going downstairs, White called out to his daughter who had been watching television when he went to bed, and when he rounded the corner to see a broken-out glass pane in a door, he knew what had just happened.

Email newsletter signup

Someone had just tried to burglarize his home.

White’s house is one of four houses on Commerce and Orleans streets that has been broken into in recent weeks.

Eight vehicles in the downtown area have also been burglarized.

Fortunately for White, the noise he made coming down the stairs scared off the would-be burglars before they could reach through and undo the deadbolt on the door and take anything.

White said he wants people to know about the burglaries in recent weeks and be prepared.

“The more aware people are that there are some problems out there, the more observant they are,” he said.

Commerce Street residents Randy and Ann Tillman were not as fortunate as White when one of their vehicles was burglarized Saturday morning.

After breaking out the driver’s side window on a truck parked in their driveway, the thief took a cell phone, a Global Positioning System computer and a pistol from the vehicle, Ann Tillman said.

“They called us at 5:45 a.m. from the cell phone, I guess to see if we were home,” Ann said. “It was scary. My husband usually leaves the house around that time, and the potential here is horrifying.”

Police Chief Mike Mullins said there has been a rise in incidents in the areas of State, Washington and Orleans Street, and that the police are following leads on the burglaries.

Though there is sometimes a rise in this type of crime at this time of year, Natchez has not typically seen it in years past, Mullins said.

“What I am asking people to do is please watch and be aware, and call us if anything is out of the ordinary,” Mullins said. “If there is anything that looks suspicious, anyone moving through the area who doesn’t look familiar, go ahead and call and let the police department identify them.”

Some things citizens can do to discourage potential thefts is to make sure not to leave anything valuable in their vehicle, and to make sure all doors and windows in their houses are locked, Mullins said.

“If they have an alarm system, they need to test it and make sure it is turned on,” he said.

As for White, he already has a plan of action.

“I think the plan for here on out is for us to meet as a neighborhood and have volunteers patrol the neighborhood and assist the police,” he said.