Marion County Undersheriff David Huntley said there has been an increase of burglaries and thefts in rural areas in the county.
Thefts of items like chainsaws, tool battery chargers, mower batteries, a gas powered generator, gallons of fuel, and yards of piping, all of which have been stolen from rural locations since Aug. 31, are difficult for the Sheriff’s office to solve. Huntley said it might take an owner weeks before they realize a theft has occurred. The deterioration of evidence in that time is staggering.
“They might have been out there a week earlier and later discover it,” Huntley said. “They’ve destroyed a scene before they call it in.”
Huntley said officers check for finger prints and sometimes set up cameras to catch assailants. He said the office does not often search for DNA or other forensic evidence in burglaries and thefts.
“We get kits (for evidence collection) from KBI and we don’t have a lot of them,” Huntley said.
Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning said burglaries and thefts have decreased in Hillsboro. Kinning said he has encouraged his officers to collect forensic evidence, but HPD also sends their evidence to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation crime lab — burglaries and thefts are a lower priority than murders and sexual crimes for the lab.
“The lab is still overwhelmed,” Kinning said.
Using a private lab for burglary and theft evidence has been discussed within the Hillsboro department but is not an economically feasible option for the city. KBI’s services are free of charge.
“The problem is it costs money,” Kinning said of using private labs.
Huntley advised rural residents to be aware of their property and to try to prevent thefts before they occur.