Henrico residents suspect thieves of casing out neighborhood homes

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- People in the White Oak Forest community believe thieves have been casing the area, looking for an opportunity to steal once residents leave for work.

Twice this week a man in a black van has been seen leaving the area, after several back doors in the East End neighborhood had been kicked-in.

“This is a nice neighborhood, nothing ever happens in this neighborhood," said Sharon Austin looking over at her neighbor’s house. "[The suspect] rang her doorbell, but I don’t think she answered the door or something. When she got to the back of the house, they kicked in her back door.”

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Neighbors believe the suspect is preying on the working class, deciding to strike when he thinks the homeowners are gone for the day.

"We just need to be aware of our environment,” said Thomas Mangrum, who also lives in the neighborhood. “We need to be aware of who is coming in the neighborhood, who’s not coming in… who doesn’t belong here.”

He said the community must take appropriate steps to ensure their safety and that starts with surveillance cameras for his home.

"That’s why I’m putting up these security cameras,” he said. “We had some break-ins… so I'm protecting myself."

Even though he works out of his home a majority of the time, he says it doesn't mean he's letting his guard down.

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"If anybody looks strange in the neighborhood, then make that phone call, it’s never hurts,” Mangrum advised his neighbors. “Let them figure it out."

Mangrum also says their neighborhood is not an easy one to find and believes whoever the man in the black van, he has been riding through the community, looking for his targets.

Anyone with information was asked to call Henrico Police 804-501-5000 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.