Columbia man frustrated by slow burglary investigation

Four burglars ransack George Vanwart's home on Christmas Eve in this still from Vanwart's security cameras. Vanwart said he is frustrated by a lack of progress on the investigation.

When George Vanwart took his family to his mother-in-lawâ??s house on Christmas Eve, he could not have expected who would come to visit his house.

â??I looked at my video camera, and my wife noticed four kids were in my house,â?? Vanwart said.

Instead of Santa Claus with a sack of toys on his back, Vanwartâ??s security cameras captured a quartet of burglars ransacking his home. The group made off with his gaming system and his wifeâ??s cameras.

Vanwart told KRCG 13 Sunday he has heard little from law enforcement since that night. Worse, he said his house is one of several that have been broken into in his neighborhood. He said detectives have told him they think the same group might be behind all of the break-ins.

â??When we moved down here, we believed that our neighborhood was in a safer environment. And it turned out that itâ??s not,â?? he said. â??It has a bunch of kids running around breaking into peopleâ??s homes because theyâ??re bored. And their parents arenâ??t doing anything about it.â??

The houses in question are all located along Godas Drive near the Lake of the Woods exit. Ordinarily, Columbia police or the Boone County Sheriffâ??s Department would take charge of the investigation depending on whether the property is inside city limits.But city maps show the boundary runs right down the middle of the street. Vanwart said that may be one of the reasons the investigation is taking so long.

â??It seems the police department and the Sheriffâ??s Department are kind of conflicted because of where the address is,â?? he said. â??Theyâ??re pretty much trying to joint-venture the whole situation and not really getting anywhere.â??

Vanwart said the break-ins have seriously impacted his life at home. He said his wife is afraid to leave the house for fear something may happen to their children. Since his house was robbed, Vanwart has installed more security cameras and other measures. He said he is considering starting a neighborhood watch but is not sure whether his neighbors would be serious about participating.

For Vanwart, who served in the U.S. Army for nine years and completed a total of four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, the problem is particularly aggravating.

â??As a military vet, itâ??s kind of frustrating watching our society and our judicial system go the way it is right now,â?? he said.

Columbia police did not return calls for comment for this story.