A Highlands Ranch burglar is using the community’s love for dogs against it.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is alerting residents to be extra vigilant after reports that a burglar or burglars are entering homes through dog doors. Nine burglaries occurred within a few-block radius near Highlands Ranch Parkway and South Ranch Road, and the perpetrator went in and out through a dog door in five of those cases, said Chad Teller, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.
All nine burglaries have occurred since October 18, and investigators believe the same person or persons are responsible.
“Unfortunately, we just don’t have any suspect info,” Teller said.
The burglar generally breaks in between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. — sometimes with the homeowners inside — and steals cash and small electronics that will fit out a dog door. Three streets have been hit particularly hard: Sherrelwood Lane, Ascot Avenue and Sterling Drive. It’s someone who knows the area “very well,” Teller said, adding he would not speculate as to whether the suspect might live near the burglarized homes. One of the victims did not return a message requesting comment.
Whoever is committing the crimes is brazen, Teller said, because there are high risks involved, aside from getting caught by police and facing felony charges.
“We would say that they’re definitely bold,” he said. “They have no fear. They’re going through a pet door and don’t know what kind of pet is in that home. These aren’t small pet doors. They’re a pretty decent size.”
The burglar spends a short time in each home, grabbing things like iPads and cell phones before fleeing. None of the homeowners have detected the burglar’s presence during the act, and while authorities are warning people not to confront an intruder, Teller says he is concerned that an “unfortunate circumstance” might arise for the unwanted person.
“Douglas County is a very conservative county and there are a lot of gun owners,” he said. “That’s another risk that they’re taking when they enter these homes. They don’t know what they’re going to encounter on the other side.”
The sheriff’s office is asking residents to be on high alert and report any suspicious activity, like a running vehicle in the street at odd hours of the night. Officials are also asking people to lock their doors, as the suspect entered the homes in the remainder of the burglaries through an open garage or unlocked door.
As for guarding vulnerable entry points like flimsy plastic dog doors, homeowners should place a heavy object in front of them before going to bed each night, Teller said.