ECPD identifies 3 involved in recent break-ins, 1 arrested - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

ECPD identifies 3 involved in recent break-ins, 1 arrested

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Eau Claire (WQOW) -- Eau Claire is known as a relatively safe city and many neighborhoods pride themselves on that. That's why many in the Eastside Hill neighborhood are shaken by a recent rash of robberies. 

The Eau Claire Police Department is investigating and told News 18 on Wednesday that three people were identified and contacted in connection to the crimes. One of them, a 17-year-old male, has been arrested. Officials said the two other involved are juveniles and have been referred to juvenile court. 

Homeowners in the area said they hope that'll put a stop to the recent crime spree. 

"I came downstairs and I was going by the back door and I noticed my wallet on the ground and my credit cards were scattered, but they were all there," homeowner Joshua Miller said.

Miller's lived in the Eastside Hill neighborhood for more than ten years and on Tuesday, fell victim to the recent string of break-ins in the area. 

"And then I started looking around and  couldn't find my keys, and that's when I noticed the screen on the window had been cut and that someone had come into the house," he told News 18. 

Miller said the thieves didn't get away with anything too valuable, but they did swipe his iPod which actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He said whomever stole the iPod activated it while officers were still at his home taking a report, allowing them to track the device and investigate the house where it was found. 

"Unfortunately it just takes a small handful of people, on some busy nights, to kind of ruin the feeling for the neighborhood for a while," Miller said. "Hopefully, now that these people have been apprehended, this mini-wave will stop and life will return to normal in the neighborhood." 

Some people in the Eastside Hill neighborhood said they aren't looking to punish, or shame the group. Mark Ruddy, the president of the neighborhood's association, said they don't want to make a knee-jerk reaction to someone who might need help. 

"There's no benefit in throwing somebody in jail and have them sit there without rehabilitation, and then come out and commit another crime," Ruddy said. "I feel for those neighbors who've been violated. At the same time, I really feel for those people who are driven to those means and haven't learned how to live in community."  

Police said the easiest way to avoid becoming a victim yourself is by locking your doors, but Ruddy said that doesn't mean neighbors have to isolate themselves. 

"If I'm going to lock my doors, I guess I want to also put seeds in the ground about making relationships and contacts. And try to give people a chance, and a second chance. That's what I think is going to work in the long-term," he said. 

The Eau Claire Police Department said the 17-year-old arrested in the case faces four counts of burglary. They said the two juveniles also face four counts of burglary, but in juvenile court. They said the group could face additional charges if authorities can tie them to even more of the break-ins. 

Officials also aren't sure if the three already identified are the only ones involved. That's why they're asking people in the area to continue reporting any suspicious activity. 

 Though Ruddy and Miller told News 18 the recent crime spree isn't making them second-guess the safety of their neighborhood, one Eau Claire mother feels differently after she said someone broke into her home while her child was inside with the babysitter. 

She said in a statement: "You suddenly feel helpless and scared, but have to be strong for the kiddos that you can't comfort in person. It sounds logical to think 'Make sure no one is home if you're going to rob the place,' but it seems we aren't dealing with logical people in a situation like this."

News 18 hasn't been able to confirm if that break-in was tied to the group police identified, but again, they're asking neighbors to stay vigilant. 

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