Burglar on the loose, break-ins unsolved in Pratt

Courtney Blankenship
The Pratt Police Department released this photo last Monday of an armed robbery suspect entering the front door at Kwik Shop, 102 Washington Street in Pratt on May 1, 2020. Anyone with information about this suspect should call the Pratt Police Department at 620-672-5551.

Recent thefts and crimes in Pratt have left some to wonder if crime is on the rise in the area and if people should take additional precautions. According to local authorities, some of the crimes may be linked, but all are still under investigation.

In a Facebook post made on Monday, the Pratt Police Department said an armed robbery was reported at the Kwik Shop located at 102 Washington in Pratt on May 01, 2020. Though no one was injured and minimal property was stolen, the subject fled the scene on foot and is considered to be armed and dangerous. An arrest has not yet been made in that case, according to City Police Chief Nate Humble.

The Pratt Police Department requested on Facebook that anyone with information about the crime or the identity of the suspect should call the Pratt Police Department or 911.

One month prior, a break-in took place at Pratt Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, April 1, and while no money was taken, there was property damage.

“We had two doors that were damaged and some things inside,” said Gordon Stull, member of the church.

Stull said the burglar or burglars, searched for money but were unsuccessful because the church does not keep money on hand. Three safes were broken into inside the church and damaged in the process, but nothing was taken.

Pratt Police Detective Joe Ohler, who investigated the Presby Church case, said forced entry was made at two exterior doors, which were damaged in the process.

Similar entries have been made or attempted at other Pratt businesses in the past several months, including Hampel Oil, Pratt Real Estate, El Dos de Oros Restaurant, Wrights Liquor, Mid-Kansas Auto, Pratt Auto Service and more.

“At attempt was made to gain entry at Radio Shack, but an alarm was activated there and the perpetrator ran off,”Ohler said. “This is a case-in-point of how effective a good alarm system can be. That attempt was thwarted.”

Ohler said a surprising number of businesses were still leaving doors unlocked.

“In this day and age it is a necessity to have a good security system, lock all the doors, leave lights on and use alarm systems,”he said.

Chief Humble said that he does not believe the COVID-19 pandemic has been a contributing factor to the crimes. He said that at this time, the department continues to follow up on leads, process evidence, and move forward to identify the suspect or suspects responsible for the crimes.

“A few of the thefts and break-ins that we had---they are related, and we do have evidence,” Humble said. “We’re following up on that to capture the suspects that were involved.”

Humble said that people should continue to take the normal precautions, including not leaving valuables inside vehicles where they are visible, and keeping homes well-lit whenever possible.

“Alarms are a big deterrent and they help out a lot,” Humble said. “If they hear the audible alarm, they’re likely to leave the scene before any damage or anything is taken and also if they see that there is an alarm there at the residence, they probably won’t even mess with it.”

To keep the community safe, Humble said that if people see something, they should say something.

“If they find something out of the ordinary, it doesn’t hurt to just give us a call and say ‘hey, here’s what I saw,’” Humble said. “It may be nothing, but that thing you may think is nothing could be something that will help us solve a crime that’s been committed or about to be committed.”

Chief Humble reported to the Pratt City Commission last week that crime number statistics for the month of April actually showed a decline in Pratt, but may it not seem that way because of the way call responses are recorded by his office.

Tracey T. Beverlin, Pratt County Attorney, said there is usually an increase of crime at this time of year as school is dismissed and the weather gets warm. However, she declined to give specific comments pertaining to ongoing investigations.

“I am aware that all crime reports made to dispatch had been on the low end, presumably because most people are staying home, but they are starting to increase,” Beverlin said. “I worry that crimes committed against persons are being under-reported, such as domestic violence offenses. I anticipate all types of reports to increase once the state begins to open back up.”