Sunday, March 9 2014 8:35 PM EDT2014-03-10 00:35:58 GMT
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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- A Louisville mother says thieves ransacked her home, taking her peace of mind and much more. Now she fears for her children's safety.
"I was breathless to tell you the truth," Rhonda Williams says. "It's like I had an anxiety attack -- this couldn't have happened again."
Williams says she dropped her kids off at school on January 7th and returned to find her Dixie Highway home broken into for a sixth time: "My flatscreen was gone. My safe was gone...It wasn't easy to get in."
On the exact same day, thieves destroyed a steel door with a heavy wood brace to take some of the exact same items from Mohamed Ahmed: "Somebody could get hurt," he says. "It's not only about what they took and the damage they cause -- it just makes the whole neighborhood look so bad."
Metro Police confirm at least 18 burglaries in the California neighborhood in the last three weeks -- brazen, midday break-ins, happening between six in the morning and six at night.
The city's crime mapping database shows most of the break-ins centered on homes between 15th and 18th and Garland and Wilson. The crooks hit a house on Hale Street and then came and got a neighbor just a week later. WDRB News found one common theme in these burglaries -- not so much what was taken, but that an abandoned and rundown property is always just a few feet away.
That often leads to prostitutes, drug users, and vandals coming into the area. Metro government is working to tear down abandoned properties in the West End, and police have increased patrols. But last week when someone called in a break-in, they had a suspect in sight and had to let him get away in a stolen car.
But as Lt. Gregory Burns Jr. of LMPD explains, "Unfortunately, the incident didn't fall within the rules of the new pursuit policy. It wasn't a violent felony."
That's frustrating for officers, and perhaps even more for Williams: "As far as I'm concerned, I'm living like I'm in a zoo, you know, in your own home you don't feel safe."
Williams fears identity theft the most, because the crooks took off with her family's Social Security cards. That includes three children.
Anyone with information is asked to call the police tipline at 574-LMPD.