MERRILLVILLE | As the town deals with financial difficulties and a short-staffed police force, Police Chief Joseph Petruch thinks all Merrillville officials, including himself, need to take an active role in improving the situation.
That's why Petruch has been involved in patrolling Merrillville neighborhoods in addition to his other responsibilities at the Police Department, he said.
"I try to get out and help," Petruch said.
In particular, Petruch has handled some saturation patrols.
He said those patrols occur in areas in which the town has received multiple reports of incidents, such as burglaries.
During a Jan. 28 patrol, Petruch discovered a burglary in progress at a home in the 7200 block of East 93rd Avenue.
A vehicle was parked with its engine running in the grass in front of the home, Petruch said.
He saw a person leave the house with a television. After seeing Petruch approach the home, the person returned to the home and later ran away, he said.
The person left the vehicle he was using and items from the home.
Petruch viewed a picture of Christopher D. Delgado, 28, of Hebron, and identified him as the person he saw.
Last week, Delgado was charged with felony burglary and misdemeanor resisting law enforcement in connection with the case.
Petruch said Delgado is at large, and could be involved in other incidents.
Petruch asked anyone with information about Delgado's whereabouts to contact the U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force at (888) 805-6119.
Petruch's patrol efforts received praise during Tuesday's Town Council meeting.
Council President Carol Miano said a resident sent the town a letter noting the recent burglary could have gone unnoticed if Petruch wasn't patrolling the area.
"It's good to actually have a working chief," Miano said.
Councilman Shawn Pettit said he has also noticed Petruch patrolling in neighborhoods.
Petruch "is always out and about and everybody appreciates that," Pettit said.