PUEBLO, Colo. - Burglaries usually increase during the holidays. But Pueblo police are dealing with what they describe as a "significant" increase fueled by drug addicts.
Police Capt. Eric Bravo said two separate groups -- one in their early 20s and another in their late 20s -- are committing most of the break-ins because they seek money to support their illegal drug habits.
"They're addicted to heroin pills, narcotics, prescription pills, etc.," said Bravo. "But we have made some arrests, mostly when a neighbor reports suspicious activity."
However, Bravo says neighbors need to be more alert.
The thieves are bold enough to strike in broad daylight, said Bravo, while realizing that many people work during the day. The usual method is to knock on a door or even break a window to see if anyone is home, then kick in a door and take big-screen TVs or other electronic items.
One of the victims is the Smith family, who live at 16th Street and Salem Avenue on the city's east side. Smith said his home was burglarized while he and his family were attending his sister's birthday party last week. A TV, computer laptop, gaming system and games were stolen.
"It really took a toll on the kids," said Smith, who has three children. "It's an invasion of privacy. The kids were really worried, and still are, to sleep in their bed because the rock (used to break a window) flew right into their window and landed on their bed."
Smith said he has installed security cameras and an alarm at his home. He said he doesn't have insurance to replace the stolen items.
Victor Montoya, a neighbor across the street, said it's not surprising that no one saw or heard anything the night of the burglary. But he says he may have been targeted by the thieves.
"I had a guy knock at the door while I was in bed," said Montoya. "My lady actually saw (a) guy come to our door. She shut the door on him right away to let him know she was home."
Bravo said making investigation of the break-ins difficult is that the police force is 21 officers below full strength. He said officers and detectives are working overtime to solve the cases and make arrests.