Seven or eight barns and sheds in the metro-east have been broken into and burglarized since September, police say.
Across unincorporated St. Clair County in rural Smithton, Millstadt and Belleville, tools and recreational vehicles have been stolen from barns and sheds, St. Clair County Capt. Bruce Fleshren said.
The burglaries have been sporadic, taking place at various times of the day on different days of the week, Fleshren said. They have mostly occurred between Illinois 159 and Illinois 158 in unincorporated areas in Smithton, Millstadt and Belleville.
Aaron Scarborough, of rural Millstadt, said he had his barn broken into about two days ago, and up to $12,000 worth of his materials were stolen, including an ATV and a utility trailer filled with tools.
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“I grew up in an era that taught America’s children to do unto others as they would do unto you, but these people did not do that,” Scarborough said. “It doesn’t just feel like a violation of our privacy and security, it is a violation.”
Scarborough said he talked to his neighbors on Town Hall Road and beyond and, in the last two to three weeks, half a dozen of them said they have had similar burglaries in the area. Scarborough said four of the burglaries he knows of have involved the theft of ATVs or other recreational vehicles.
“There’s definitely something going on. If they’re targeting specific items, and with the way they’re occurring, there’s a very high chance that these incidents could be related,” Scarborough said.
Scarborough said he has heard of burglaries on his own road, Town Hall Road, as well as on Roachtown Road, Triple Lakes Road and Urbana Road. Fleshren added that break-ins have occurred on Schmidt Lane and M and O Station Road.
Some of the sheds or barns have been unlocked while others had their doors or locks broken during the burglaries, Fleshren said.
“If anyone sees anyone suspicious driving around their property or road, they should call because that would be helpful,” Fleshren said. “All I can tell you is, neighbors in rural areas have to watch out for each other. Lock your property up and be aware of suspicious circumstances.”
Fleshren said out of all the burglaries, mostly tools have been stolen, but a couple recreational vehicles have been taken as well.
Scarborough said, “There’s no better feeling than earning what you work for and knowing that you have paid for it with blood, sweat and tears. I feel sorry for these petty criminals that they do not have that.”
He added, “I’m always paying attention to anything that looks out of place and assessing the safety of situations, and it’s disgusting to me that I have to do that.”
The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the burglaries.