Big rise in Canton burglaries has residents worried

More than two dozen burglaries and attempted burglaries have been reported in the past 30 days in Baltimore's Canton neighborhood, a significant jump from what residents usually face.

In one case, a woman was sleeping on her couch in the 3200 block of Elliott St. on Sunday when she was awoken by an intruder, who stole her phone, police said. Later, the suspect posted a picture of himself holding a gun on the woman's Facebook page, said Maj. William Davis, police commander of the Southeastern District.


At a community meeting held in a small hall near the Canton Safeway on Monday night, Davis called the rise in break-ins "a very big spike for Canton," which normally sees only a handful of burglaries per month, and said most have been concentrated in the area north of O'Donnell Square. Police believe one teenager may be responsible for most of the burglaries, which have which have occurred during the day and at night, Davis said.

Rachel Grau, who attended the meeting, said burglars have tried to break into her O'Donnell Street house twice in the past two weeks — the first time successfully. The burglar or burglars struck first during the day, she said, despite her blaring security alarm, and then again when her family was on vacation.

"They just ransacked the house," said Grau, 43. Checkbooks and jewelry were taken, she said, while more traceable electronics like her iPad were left alone. Police were "very dismissive about the whole thing," she said. After her first real brush with crime in the city, she says she's worried.

"Lately, I feel like this is getting out of hand," she said.

At the community meeting, which drew a crowd of about 100, a few other residents said they had been victims of burglaries or attempted burglaries as well. One woman said feces was left on her house during an attempted break-in.

Some complained that police do not get out of their cars to patrol and are not easily approachable, with one man saying officers acted as if they were soldiers executing a military mission.

City Councilman James Kraft, who represents the area, said he did not appreciate what he's been told by police is an "ingrained" attitude among older officers who refuse to walk patrols.

"We've got a lot of people holding these jobs that are looking for excuses not to do them," he said.

Davis encouraged residents to notify his office when they have an unsatisfactory encounter with police, and to call 911 to report suspicious behavior even if they are unsure whether it is criminal. He also said some of the break-ins have been in houses with unlocked doors or windows.

He said he blamed himself for not making residents aware of the rash of burglaries sooner.

"I'm going to take the biggest hit for not getting the word out before," Davis said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.