Gainesville Police have arrested two men they say are responsible for a recent string of burglaries in the Ridgewood Avenue area of the city.
The two men — Andre Lorenzo Porter, 49, and Jeffrey Todd DuVall, 45 — are believed to be responsible for 20 burglaries in the areas of Dixon Circle, North Avenue and Lanier Avenue in the last month.
Police have charged Porter and DuVall with theft by receiving. Both are Gainesville residents.
At a news conference Friday, Police Chief Frank Hooper said other charges may be brought against the two men.
Porter and DuVall are accused of burglarizing homes in the Ridgewood area when residents were at work, stealing flat-screen televisions, DVD players, tools and jewelry.
The men then allegedly sold the stolen property at local pawn shops, sometimes within the hour of the burglary, Hooper said.
"Their goal was to avoid any encounter with people. If nobody was at the residence, then they would enter and take items such as this that they could convert quickly into cash," Hooper said, motioning to a table of DVD players and other stolen items. "A lot of these things they were converting into cash to buy drugs."
The two men were arrested by Gainesville Police last week. Since their arrests, no burglaries have been reported in the Ridgewood area, Hooper said.
"We feel pretty strongly that they are responsible for the majority of the burglaries and thefts that have occurred in this area," Hooper said.
Some of the stolen items have been recovered and returned to the owners, Hooper said. But a number of items, including a DeWalt air compressor, gold rings and a few DVD players remain unclaimed at the city police headquarters. Police believe other items were sold on the street or traded for drugs.
Burglaries, which have been more frequent this year, increased in the city in September, Hooper said, with nearly 40 residential burglaries reported.
The police chief attributes the spike in property crimes to the recession. DuVall and Porter were unemployed.
"Some folks are getting desperate out there with these economic times," Hooper said.
At Friday’s news conference, Hooper encouraged city residents to take advantage of free security surveys that the department offers. The city’s crime prevention officer, Joe Britte, offers the surveys of residents’ homes to help them avoid becoming an easy target for theft and burglary. He also helps set up neighborhood watch programs, Hooper said.
The investigation of the burglaries is ongoing. Police encourage anyone with information on the case to call the police department’s criminal investigation division at 770-534-5254.