HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico Police say drugs are the motivation behind a string of Tuckahoe area burglaries.
Police say a group of seven people broke into 21 homes, mostly along the Patterson Avenue corridor. They had a meeting Tuesday with community members at the Tuckahoe library to help fight back against the intruders.
Neighbors in the Tuckahoe area say they won't sit by while people break into their homes. More than a hundred came to the community meeting, filling the room and spilling into the hallway.
Some believe the crimes are still taking place. "Two doors down, somebody broke in. They actually slept in the bed, apparently," said resident Dana Milkovich, who lives in the Tuckahoe Area and lives next to a police officer.
"I'm concerned. There's been a lot of break-ins activity in my neighborhood. And I'm a little concerned," added Ronald Styles. "I felt very safe for a long time so now I'm very concerned.'
Police say seven people are responsible for the near two dozen crimes and that they took electronics and jewelry to sell for drugs.
"They could then go and secure their heroin for their next fix. It is as basic as that," said Henrico Police Lt. Jim Price.
Police say the thieves weren't just taking things from homes, but that they also cooked up an elaborate scheme. They were taking things from stores like Lowe's or Home Depot. Then, returning those items to a different Lowe's or Home Depot store for a gift card. Next, they sold the gift cards to a pawn shop, using that money to buy more drugs.
Police say the suspects mostly broke in through the back doors, especially sliding doors.
"They just move around throughout the community and look for those kinds of obvious targets," said Price.
Two people have already been arrested for the break-ins. Police say a third person has been located in St. Louis and they are working to bring that person back to town. They say a fourth person was picked up Tuesday and is facing charges for a different crime at this point.
They say two more people were identified when the duo attempted several break-ins in Richmond. One was taken into custody, but a second evaded police.
Police say they have been working closely on this case, and that as the court process proceeds, they'll be able to reveal more details.
They also provided neighbors with several tips for crime prevention. Click here for a .pdf with that information.