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Published: Thursday, 4/7/2005

Ford seeks to hammer thieves at new homes


Toledo Mayor Jack Ford says he wants to nip in the bud a rash of break-ins and thefts at houses being built in the central city.

Yesterday, he announced a $2,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the crimes. He said the city will increase police patrols at the sites, and security cameras will be used at select locations.

"Too much money and too much effort has gone into rebuilding the neighborhoods," the mayor said during a news conference attended by community activists, including community development corporation directors.

Eight locations have been hit since March, mostly during the nighttime hours. Criminals struck during the daytime last week. Thousands of dollars in items from sheeting to sinks have been taken.

Community leaders said the crimes are aggravating because they are trying to rebuild blighted areas, increase home ownership, and get people to move back into the neighborhoods.

E. Michelle Mickens, director of Toledo Central City Neighborhoods, said the crimes could increase insurance rates on the units, and she said builders want the development corporations "to take more of the risks."

The Douglas Co. is doing work at the central-city sites and plans to build about 50 houses in the Elmwood, Fernwood, Fitchland, Foster, and Oakwood areas.

Detectives plan to talk with the company today about ways to prevent future crimes. A similar meeting was held three years ago during a similar crime scenario police solved.

Detective Perry Waddell said the company has tried to implement some of his tips.

Rod Nofziger, project superintendent with the Douglas Co., said he is doing "everything possible" to prevent such crimes.

He said he's securing the sites as best as he can, but he declined to discuss specifics. He said he appreciated the city's efforts.

Detective Waddell urged builders to mark their supplies and equipment so they can be identified if they are stolen.

He encouraged security or alarm systems, removing tools from the work sites at night, and installing expensive items, such as furnaces and air conditioning units, last.

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