HUNTLEY – An elusive group of so-called "Polish gypsies" are responsible for a spat of recent home burglaries within the Sun City Huntley retirement community, Huntley police said.
Investigators believe an organized faction of self-identified gypsies have burglarized 24 homes in Sun City since 2011, including two recent burglaries July 25 and July 28. Before last week Sun City hadn't reported a residential burglary since October, police said.
The sporadic pattern fits the characteristics of a broader gypsy group, which changes targets and members frequently across multiple states, Huntley Deputy Chief Michael Klunk said.
The group, which police believes comes from Polish descent, has been linked to incidents in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, Klunk said. Their techniques have confounded area police, since they target hard-to-trace items such as jewelry and cash.
"A lot of them use fictitious identification. A lot of the time the plates we come up with are from rental vehicles," Klunk said. "There's often dead ends. It's a difficult group to break into, with ever-changing participants and ever-changing vehicles."
The shifty nature of the burglaries has put some Sun City residents on alert.
Police Chief John Perkins met with neighborhood representatives July 28 to discuss the issue before his department circulated fliers notifying Sun City residents and area businesses of the renewed break-ins. Huntley police also have increased patrols in certain Sun City areas, as they work with other departments that are investigating similar reports.
In the majority of cases – dating to 2011 – men and women of the group drive around Sun City neighborhoods using rental vehicles purchased through fake identification and look for residents leaving their homes.
They typically check for unlocked windows or doors but also have been known to force their way into unattended homes, Klunk said.
The burglaries usually happen between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. The most frequent area of activity has been homes that border Cold Spring Drive, Klunk said.
Once inside, they check master bedrooms, take jewelry and cash, stow the items away in small handbags and leave within minutes, Klunk said.
As police investigate, they urge residents to be vigilant.
"They have to make sure they have good, secure doors, a quality lock," Klunk said. "We always recommend once people leave their home to circle back to see if anything looks out of the ordinary."