Growing crime in Whiteside County has homeowners and businesses concerned

MORRISON, Illinois  --  Whiteside County Sheriff Kelly Wilhelmi says the county is seeing a spike in burglaries, especially in rural areas.

On Wednesday, August 8, River City Fencing in Fulton, Illinois was broken into. Sheriff Wilhelmi says the business lost thousands of dollars worth of products. He says he believes the main reason behind the increase in burglaries is drugs, like methamphetamine.

"In order for people to get their drugs, they are stealing everything that isn't tied down," Sheriff Wilhelmi said. "We are having a lot of problems with break ins, theft of property in barns and farmsteads, things like that."

Deputies have not been able to make any arrests in the burglary cases, but they can see the drug problem in their own jail. Sheriff Wilhelmi says the county jail had 108 inmates on Thursday August 7. The jail is built for 67 inmates, but with doubling up, the county is able to hold 127 inmates. Sheriff Wilhelmi says that 108 is an unusually high number for his county.

Drugs and burglaries are not the only problem the Sheriff's department is facing. Deputies are also getting calls about a suspicious white van.  One incident involved a teenage girl in North Morrison. She said she was approached by two men in a white van. The van drove off when her father came around the corner, but the encounter scared them enough to call police. The sheriff says that have had six total different reports similar to that one.

The sheriff's department does not know if there is any connection between the burglaries and the vans, but he encourages the public to report anything they see.

"Give us a call," Sheriff Wihelmi said. "Get some information. If you see a car, get a description of the people, get a license plate number if you can."