WHEELING - Porch lights remain on through the night along Hamilton Avenue as residents attempt to keep potential intruders at bay.
Burglars targeted several homes earlier this month in the Woodsdale and Edgwood areas of Wheeling. Two of the homes in one of Wheeling's more idyllic neighborhoods were entered as unsuspecting residents slept. At one home on Hamilton Avenue, an intruder woke up a sleeping resident who then chased the man from his home. The intruders stole a number of items and were not caught.
The burglars also attempted to break into two other Hamilton Avenue homes.
Photo by Heather Ziegler
A Halloween pumpkin sits beside a sign denoting a security system is in place at this Woodsdale home.
On Birch Avenue, burglars entered a home via a garage door opener mistakenly left inside an unlocked vehicle parked in the driveway. The burglars stole money, electronic devices and more. The family discovered the burglary shortly before daybreak.
In the wake of these home invasions, residents are clamoring to shore up doors and window locks. Some have installed alarm systems and invested in outdoor lighting.
At the Birch Avenue home, the owners have changed door locks, installed extra security lights and an alarm system. They said neighbors are starting to pay more attention to their surroundings.
As one resident said, "We never used to lock our doors, but these days you have to."
Several residents said they already had burglar alarm systems in place but rarely bothered to activate them. These recent burglaries have changed all that.
"We will be turning it on now all the time," one woman said. "My husband has a gun. It's not what you want, but it's what you have to do."
Another resident said he would not hesitate to shoot someone if they attempted to enter his house.
As word of the burglaries spread throughout the neighborhoods, residents began talking about a neighborhood watch meeting. Kim Miller, who heads a watch group in Woodsdale, said she will put together a meeting as soon as possible.
"I can have a police officer there and we can talk about what we can do," Miller said. "It might calm some nerves for people to get together and talk about it."
One 86-year-old woman said, "I always thought your home was a refuge where you felt safe. After this experience, I wonder. I still can't believe someone would go from the basement to the third floor knowing there were people in there."
The woman's son, who fought with one of the intruders, said he is "highly thankful at the quick response and professionalism of the Wheeling Police. When our hearts were beating 100 mph and the adrenaline was pumping they did a lot to calm us down.They came in cool and calm."
One resident said when he was a youngster growing up in the county, he dreamed of living on a tree-lined street in Woodsdale. While his dream came true, it has had its pitfalls. He said some time ago, someone stole all of their porch furniture. Now they chain the outdoor furniture to the porch.
The burglaries this month follow a home invasion several years ago on Archibold Avenue. No one was injured in that incident.
Wheeling police have said they are continuing to follow leads on the burglaries.