TUSCOLA — The Douglas County sheriff's office is urging county residents to lock machine sheds or pole barns with dead bolt locks following a series of burglaries in the county.
Meanwhile, police have arrested three people and are looking for others in connection of some of the burglaries.
Douglas County Chief Deputy Peter Buckley said his office has responded to 17 burglaries in Arcola, Bowdre, Camargo, Murdock, Newman and Sargent townships since May 30, with the vast majority of the incidents taking place at rural machine sheds or pole barns at a time when nobody was in the area.
"Entry was usually gained by forcing open a door, either by the use of a crowbar or screwdriver or by kicking open the door or breaking a window," Buckley said on Friday evening.
Items stolen included copper wire, extension cords, vehicle batteries, welders, impact wrenches, power cords, table saws, various tools, grinders, socket sets and swords.
Buckley said the sheriff's office suspect that more than one group of two to three people each have taken part in the burglaries, with the different groups possibly unknown to one another.
As a result of the investigation, Douglas County deputies with the help of the Villa Grove, Tuscola and Georgetown police, the Edgar and Champaign County sheriff offices and state police arrested Derek Chandler, 29, of Villa Grove, for theft; Phil Jones 33, of Villa Grove, for residential burglary; and Michael Pressler, 24 of Chrisman, for burglary.
Buckley said arrest warrants have been issued for two other suspects and police have served a summons to a sixth person to appear in court to face charges of burglary.
Buckley said he is urging Douglas County residents to lock their machine sheds using dead bolt locks and to make sure that outside doors are made of metal or a sturdy wood.
"Consider installing security or surveillance cameras that overlook doors and windows and contact law enforcement and report suspicious activity when noted." Buckley said.