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Fire victim's PlayStation 3 among items taken in storage unit burglaries

Published: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 1:52 p.m. CDT

A severely-burned Oregon man and his family are among the victims of a rash of storage unit burglaries.

Oregon police arrested a Dixon man Oct. 23 for break-ins at the Blackhawk Storage Units at 1198 S. Second St., Oregon.

Penny Jones, Oregon, said Tuesday that she and her husband Mick had rented one of the storage units after their son Thomas, 25, was severely burned Aug. 20 in an explosion and fire that destroyed their garage and damaged their home at 406 S. Eighth St.

Thomas remains in intensive care at OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, Rockford, where he has undergone three skin grafts for burns over 85 percent of his body.

Penny said they moved some of their possessions to the storage unit after the fire made their home uninhabitable.

She said thieves broke into the storage unit. "What they took was Thomas' PlayStation 3 and the all the equipment that goes with it," she said.

Oregon Police Chief Darin DeHaan announced Monday that Adrian S. Hartness, 24, Dixon, has been charged with two counts of felony burglary in connection with the storage unit break-ins.

However, the Jones' storage unit is not one of the two listed in court documents describing the charges against Hartness.

DeHaan said 15 or more storage unit burglaries, as well as a vehicle and a residential burglary, were reported in the week preceding Hartness' arrest.

The rash of burglaries at the storage units had prompted the department to step-up patrols in the area.

An officer on patrol there Oct. 23 spotted an open door on one of the units and then saw Hartness hiding inside, DeHaan said.

Hartness ran from the unit, and police took him into custody after a foot pursuit.

When Oregon police searched his Dixon apartment they found tools, comic books, and other miscellaneous items from previously reported Oregon burglaries, DeHaan said Monday.

So far, he said charges have been filed only in the two storage unit burglaries that occurred the night Hartness was arrested.

Hartness passed up storage units with high-quality locks and used bolt cutters to clip weaker padlocks, DeHaan said.

"We would like to encourage citizens who use rented storage facilities to use the high-security padlocks," the police chief said. "This style padlock makes it more difficult for illegal entry into your storage unit."

Hartness is being held in the Ogle County Jail on $25,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 7.

He has a burglary conviction in Lee County. He broke into a Dixon bait shop in December of 2011 and was sentenced to 18 months conditional release in January.

Sauk Valley Media contributed to this article.

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