Police explain response to shrine burglary report

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2002

Police did not investigate eight recent burglaries at the Shrine of St. Therese because the caretaker reporting the crimes didn't request an officer and because he had no suspects, police said.

Jody Liliedahl, the Shrine's caretaker, reported eight burglaries at the Shrine between July 24 and Aug. 13.

Police confirmed this week Liliedahl called three times to report the eight burglaries, which caused about $1,000 in damage. An unknown amount of cash was stolen from a gift shop cash box, Liliedahl said.

Police Capt. Tom Porter said the Shrine's caretaker never requested an officer come to the scene. The four officers on patrol at any given time cover Thane, Douglas, downtown, the Mendenhall Valley and Auke Bay but do not have the time to cover further out Glacier Highway, he said.

"... We can't send an officer that far out when he or she may need to respond to something more pressing closer by. However, we will go to a scene when we are requested," Porter said.

He said with many minor crimes, a dispatch officer takes information over the phone, providing a record of the crime and enough information to know whether an officer should respond.

"If there are no leads and no suspects there's really nothing else we can do," Porter said.

He said police recognize a lay person may miss some clues, but the department still can't spare officers to investigate every crime. The department is looking into having its community services unit get involved with minor crime investigations when available, Porter said.

Porter said police were expected to be in touch with Liliedahl this week to see if they needed to look at the crime scene.

As of Wednesday morning, Liliedahl maintained he had no problems with the way the police handled the burglaries.

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