LADYSMITH, Wis. (WEAU) -- Police in a local community are asking people to be on the look out after a big spike in crime in the last year.
Ladysmith Chief of Police Allen Lobermeier said the city has seen big increases in home and business burglaries and thefts from vehicles in 2011.
He believes desperate economic times in the area could be causing some to turn to crime.
Candy Patrick, a long time Ladysmith resident, told WEAU 13 News about when her home was burglarized.
“I found my piggy bank was empty. We noticed later that we had some Oxycodone in the cupboard and it was also gone,” Patrick said.
Chief Lobermeier said money and prescription drugs are just some of the targets of criminals in the city.
“Items that people can easily get rid of like DVD players, GPS units. They’re taking stuff that's quick, the cash out of the center console, things that are above the visors, things that are quick in and quick out,” Lobermeier said.
According to the Ladysmith Police and Fire Commissions Annual Report, home and business burglaries doubled to 62.5 percent in 2011, and thefts from vehicles jumped 115 percent.
“It's scattered throughout town, no area has been targeted,” Lobermeier said.
Police said a majority of the crimes have been pinpointed to three suspects.
Lobermeier said one of them is 34-year-old Robert D. Fullerton of Ladysmith.
He’s accused of committing six burglaries and six thefts in the city.
“I think the increase is due to the economy and our unemployment rate. We are considered one of the poorest counties in the state and that does drive an element into our crime rate,” Lobermeier said.
Because of the crime surge, Patrick said her neighbors have been double checking their locks and keeping an eye out.
“We’ve been a little more leery of what goes on and watching people. Neighborhood watch has been a big thing,” Patrick said.
As well as locking doors, Lobermeier suggests keeping valuables locked up and writing down the models and serial numbers of your electronics.
He said Fullerton will be in court on Tuesday.