Rash of burglaries in Franklin

Published 11:27 am Saturday, March 26, 2011

FRANKLIN—Becky Gillette never really worried about her home being burglarized. That’s because she and her husband, Walker, live on one of Franklin’s busiest streets—North College Drive.

On March 18, the Gillettes became victims of one of 37 home burglaries in the city this year. Nothing was stolen, but their home was left in disarray.

The only apparent pattern to the burglaries is most occur during the day when no one is home, Franklin Police Lt. Tim Whitt said Thursday.

No one neighborhood has been targeted. Money, video gaming systems and televisions seem to be burglars’ items of choice. And not many arrests have been made.

Suspects have been described as white males and black males. Although, on Thursday, two Franklin women — Tamara Danyel Heath, 24, and Daltonia Lee Shaw, 19 — were arrested for a March 5 break-in at a Thomas Street home, police said.

The most recent burglary occurred between 2:30 and 4 p.m. Thursday in the 100 block of Holland Circle. Five guns and jewelry valued at $1,400 were stolen, Franklin police said. The suspect cut the screen from a locked door to get inside.

Police have obtained DNA evidence at the crime scenes and sent it to a crime lab in Norfolk, Whitt said.

But the wait can be long.

“We’re pretty much at their mercy with all the backlog from Hampton Roads,” he said. “But that gives us a person to look at.”

DNA last week helped Franklin police arrest Adrian Cook, 36, and Keithon Whitehead, 22, for a Dec. 1, 2009, burglary at the City Public Works Department; $500 was stolen.

“It really takes a long time,” Whitt said. “We’re doing everything we possibly can and following what leads we have. If people see something suspicious in their neighborhoods, please call us. Let us know where. Let us check it out.”

In the case of the Gillettes, the home was burglarized between 10:15 a.m. and 1 p.m. Walker Gillette came home for lunch to find a bike and a pellet gun out of place in the garage.

“When he came into the house, he saw a drawer open and all the closets open,” said Becky Gillette, the retired director of instruction for Franklin Public Schools, where she remains part time as the school test coordinator. “Nothing was broken, just in disarray.”

She commended Franklin police for their professionalism and getting “right on it.” They used tracking dogs in hopes of finding a suspect.

Entry was gained by kicking in a back door, she said.

“Police tell us they’re looking for money in drawers and jars with coins,” Gillette said. “People are telling me, that with gang initiations, they are required to break in homes, and they don’t take anything.”

She and her husband have since discussed putting in an alarm system.

“We’ve never felt apprehensive living up here,” Gillette said.