Keeping vacant properties secure

MASON CITY, Iowa – Just this month, at least two vacant north Iowa homes may have been targets for burglaries.

During a time of year when many are away for vacations, or empty homes are up for sale, it’s more important than ever to make sure more eyes are watching, to keep criminals out.

Earlier this week, Mason City Police got a call about suspicious activity at a vacant home, thanks to some watchful eyes.

“A neighbor happened to hear some commotion next door, looked out his window and saw somebody going in through the window,” explains Capt. Mike McKelvey.

He says it’s not clear what the alleged burglar was after, but says thieves commonly break into vacant properties for copper.

“We’ve had people break in, and actually steal the copper plumbing water supply pipes out of the walls.They take fixtures for scrap metal,” adds McKelvey.

Police arrested 45-year old Allen Hare, when he was caught running out the front door of the home.

A few days earlier, on the 4th of July, another vacant property was vandalized.

We spoke with the owner, who is building these town homes. He tells us multiple windows were shattered, but luckily the vandals weren’t able to get inside.

Rick Mathis is the President of the Greater Mason City Board of Realtors. He says, most realtors in our area aren’t concerned about people breaking into their vacant properties.

“We don’t have a problem with vacant homes being targeted or vandalized because, we live where we live,” explains Mathis.

As far as what steps realtors take to secure the vacant properties, Mathis says, it’s as simple as locking the front door and the back door.

“Most agents check on the property two times per week anyway, and then you always have those nice neighbors that are your watchdogs,” he adds.

The owner of the vandalized property, also relies on neighbors to keep an eye out for any suspicious behavior. He says this is the first time he’s ever had anything like this happen to one of his properties, and he hopes it’s the last.

Allen Hare, who was arrested for allegedly breaking into a vacant home is charged with second degree theft and third-degree burglary, as well as possession of burglary tools.

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