Police warned residents in northern Harford County about a spate of residential break-ins in the past month during Wednesday night's monthly meeting of the Jarrettsville/Norrisville Community Council.
Seven burglaries were reported in the area between Feb. 18 and March 18, Capt. Jack Meckley, commander of the Sheriff's Office's Northern Precinct, said. Meckley said three of the seven burglaries involved unoccupied houses and one was into a foreclosed property. He said the other incidents involved cars and sheds.
"Burglars find houses that are secluded and break a window and they are in and out of there," Meckley said. "The best thing you can have is a dog. No burglar wants to get caught."
Meckley said the burglaries were occurring in the daytime when people typically aren't. He said the sheriff's office initially believed the same person was responsible for all of them. As the case has developed, however, several people have ended up being charged.
According to Meckley, the sheriff's office, based on tips from residents, arrested two people involved in three of the burglaries in recent weeks and a pair involved in a robbery in Darlington.
On March 4, a Harford County woman was out bird-watching with binoculars, Meckley said, and spotted someone breaking into her neighbor's home near Darlington. He said the woman was able to get the license plate number of the car and deputies tracked down the burglars and arrested them.
Edward Hopkins, spokesperson for the Harford County Sheriff's Office, said Lisa Danielle Triplett, 31, of the 500 block of Aldino-Stepney Road in Aberdeen, and Keith Edward Cooper, 33, of the 100 block of Champlain Court in North East, were charged with burglary in that case.
On the same day, deputies made arrests in connection with another burglary after neighbors reported seeing someone breaking into a home, Meckley said.
Despite the burglaries, Meckley said that overall the Jarrettsville/Norrisville area is the safest sector in the county.
Deputies have made arrests in connection with three of the seven burglaries Meckley mentioned at Wednesday's community council meeting, Hopkins said.
James Gascon, 26, of the 100 block of Murtaugh Road in Delta, Pa.; Joshua James Watkins, 34, of the 1000 block of Atom Road in Delta, Pa.; and James Larry Rhoades, 26, of the 1000 block of Adam Road in Delta, Pa., were charged with burglary and theft in a break-in on Houcks Mill Road, Hopkins said.
Gascon was also charged in connection with a burglary on Nelson Mill Road and another on Grier Nursery Road, Hopkins said.
In addition to Meckley's presentation, Ron Norris, of the Bel Air office of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, told the community council members he has been receiving reports of a coyote in the area.
According to Norris, coyotes are in Harford County to stay and are running out other animals such as foxes. Foxes and coyotes compete for the same food.
Harford County has become home to the eastern coyote, which is larger than the western coyote and is more adaptable to living around people. He said DNR also has been receiving more reports of coyotes near Aberdeen Proving Ground. Coyotes have been showing up in Harford County since the late 1980s.
He said there has also been an influx of wild geese in the area, and bears have been spotted.
Norris said people should also be aware of what he called "vector animals" such as raccoons, skunks and foxes, which can carry diseases, particularly rabies.
"Animals acquire rabies from a scratch or a bite from another animal with rabies," Norris said. "It can only be spread through direct contact."
According to Norris, there are two types of rabies: mad rabies, the mostly commonly known form of the disease, which causes animals to foam at the mouth and become aggressive; and dumb rabies, which causes the animal to become more docile than normal.
"Dumb rabies is more of an issue because instead of being aggressive, the animal becomes passive and can curl up in the flower bed or the front lawn and becomes all cute and cuddly until the kids come home and pet it," he said.
Norris said rabies is a naturally occurring disease in animals; it's function in nature is to reduce the population of animals when they begin to overtax a particular environment.
"It's Mother nature's way of thinning out the herd," Norris said.