MEDIAPOLIS, Iowa (AP) — A string of nearly 60 burglaries since February has unnerved residents of the small southeastern Iowa town of Mediapolis.
Des Moines County Sheriff Mike Johnstone told The Burlington Hawk Eye (http://bit.ly/1jd4Px9 ) that the crimes are likely being committed by "one young man" who lives in the area and needs cash.
In most of the break-ins, the thief took cash from cars or garages and sometimes gas cans. About $2,000 total has been taken. Witnesses have seen the thief on at least two occasions, and he has fled when confronted.
Johnstone said residents of the town of 1,500 are used to leaving the cars and homes unlocked, and that has helped the thief.
"It has degraded the quality of small-town life in Mediapolis. It makes people feel unsafe, and they are not used to that," Johnstone said.
Brad Smith said area residents should use common sense and lock their property.
"This town is easy pickings," said Smith, who lives just outside town. "It's really laid-back in Mediapolis. People here are trusting. Maybe too trusting."
But Becky Kennedy said she doesn't think everyone's habits will change easily.
"I've always kept my car unlocked," she said, standing outside the post office. "It's small-town America. It's Mediapolis, for gosh sakes. It's been a safe town for a long, long time. But things are changing, and the people need to realize that."
Daelyn Whitaker said her vehicle has been broken into twice, so she has changed her habits.
"I'm definitely locking the doors to my house and car now," said Whitaker, who works at the Apron Strings Restaurant downtown. "I'm trying to be more alert. I'm paying more attention to what is going on around me. It's not that I don't still feel safe, I just want to make it as difficult as I can for whoever is doing this stuff."