'BMX bandits' unleash daytime crime wave on Eugene

'BMX bandits' unleash daytime crime wave on Eugene »Play Video
Eugene Police Community Service car; officers warning residents to be on the alert for new burglaries

EUGENE, Ore. - Burglars with bicycles and backpacks have unleashed a new crime wave in Eugene, spending workdays cruising neighborhoods looking for unoccupied - even unlocked - homes.

These new mobile crooks are stealing whatever they can cram into a backpack, then getting away from the scene on BMX bikes.

Police have dubbed the crimes "knock and go around burglaries."

Community Service Officer Debbie Janecek was in north Eugene on Thursday spreading the word.

The crimes are "specifically daytime burglaries, so we wanted to get that on your radar and let you be aware," Janecek told a local insurance office clerk.

Home break-ins in Eugene are not new. What's new is how the crooks are getting around.

"Most witnesses have described them as B-M-X style bicycles," Sgt. Lisa Barrong said, "and most of the teams have actually been a male-female mix."

Police have been tracking the trend for the last 6 weeks.

"They are going in and stealing small items of high dollar value," Barrong said. "So small electronics, laptops."

Plus video games, jewelry and whatever else fits into a backpack.  

Barrong told KVAL News that jewelry thefts have seen the biggest increase in recent weeks.

The modus operandi for the thieves works like this:

They go to a house, knock on the front door, and if no one answers, they assume no one is home.

They "go around" to the side or the back of the same house to look for a point of entry.

Sgt. Barrong said at least 3 pairs of burglars have been identified (or arrested), and recent victims caught them in the act.

"In 2 cases the victims came home; they were gone part of the day," Barrong said. "When they came home they actually caught females on their property."

To catch more burglars, police urge residents to call 911 with their tips. If they don't, Barrong said, "very likely those criminals are going to go ahead and hit another house in that neighborhood."

Barrong said Eugene PD has made arrests but because it's a property crime, plus the limited space in the Lane County Jail, those people were given an early release and they're back on the streets.