Corry Mayor David Mitchell became the latest victim in a string of local garage burglaries when several tools and other items valued at about $1,000 were stolen from his garage in the 100 block of Chestnut St., Corry, just after 10 a.m. on Friday morning.
Corry City Police Chief Rich Shopene said the mayor found his garage door open, and thought he might have forgotten to close it. Mitchell went to take a look and found several items missing.
Items that were stolen include two Ryobi trimmers, a pole trimmer, a Husqvarna chain saw, two drills, a laser circular saw, an 18-volt Ryobi battery charger and other assorted tools.
The unknown suspects are believed to have walked through a neighbor's yard on the 300 block of 6th Street and a wooded area to gain access to the Mitchells' property, according to Shopene.
"It was not an easy thing for them to do," Mitchell said. "Trudging through snow and slushing through the woods, which is hard to walk through anyway because there are no paths there."
When asked how the individuals managed to remove the various items, Shopene said it appeared the suspects simply carried the items away.
He went on to explain that apart from the trimmers, which have a handle, and the chain saw, which was in a case, the suspects likely loaded items into a duffle bag that also was taken from the garage.
Shopene noted that police later found the duffle bag's handle on the ground when attempting to track the suspects.
From tracks found in the snow, Shopene suspects that there were at least two but possibly three individuals involved. Mitchell agreed.
"It's probably a group, and they are getting very bold," Mitchell said.
Shopene noted that the theft happened either before or right after the rain started, so some of the main tracks were washed away.
"I could track them in the snow but once they got out onto the street, because the snow's melted and wet, I lost where they went from there," Shopene said.
The police department says the investigation is ongoing.
"We have some information here and there, but nothing solid," Shopene said. "We're just working on putting pieces together and hopefully we'll get the right bite we need to bring these people to justice. We're asking people if they see anything suspicious, hear anything suspicious at night, to give us a call."
Amid these local burglaries, which have happened both in and just outside of town, Shopene urges residents to be careful and lock up their belongings.
"I don't think we've had anybody report anything from a garage that has been locked. If you lock up your property, you protect yourself from being an easy victim," he said.
Mitchell echoed this sentiment.
"This is kind of an epidemic right now. We need to be vigilant," he said. "You have to provide a deterrent. In other words, these people will do this until they are caught. It doesn't matter if we have a hundred policemen standing around, they'll find a way."
Garages on West Frederick Street, East Bond Street, North Center Street and Snyder Circle have also been burglarized as part of this string of thefts, which began in November. Chain saws, propane tanks and kayaks, among other items, have gone missing throughout this series of burglaries.
Based on certain similarities, police believe that Friday's theft is connected to the previous garage burglaries.
"They're going through yards, going to garages," Shopene said. "We can't say exactly that they're related, but you kind of have to look at them and say, this is the same type of deal."
Mitchell said he believes his wife may have been home when the items were stolen.
Those who have any information about any of the recent burglaries are asked to call the city of Corry Police Department at 814-664-2222.
"We're working hard to get this solved," Mitchell said.