— The Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department is asking residents to be vigilant and take preventive steps to help curb what has been a recent increase in property crimes.
Though exact numbers were not available for comparisons to the past, police say they have seen an increase in reports for such crimes as burglaries and breaking into cars.
“It’s one of those crimes that’s a crime of opportunity,” Sheriff’s Lt. Jim Yetter explained. “It’s a lot of times purses, wallets, checkbooks, computers. I’m not sure why people leave lap tops or iPads in their cars. But I think people take for granted that if it’s parked in their driveway that it’s safe, when unfortunately these are thefts of opportunity from cars.”
Yetter said the best idea is to keep valuable items out the car entirely and, if that’s not possible, at least keep them out of plain view. If possible, he said people should park their vehicles in their garages.
Arrests have been made in several cases, but the diligence of all citizens is still needed to prevent further losses, Hendricks County Sheriff Dave Galloway said.
He’s requesting the help of every citizen to watch for suspicious activity in their neighborhoods. Anyone who observes anything suspicious is asked to call the sheriff’s department immediately at 839-8700. Any information provided, such as a vehicle description or license plate number, could be helpful.
“Preventing crime in our neighborhoods is a responsibility that needs to be shared by law enforcement and private citizens,” Galloway said. “Through neighborhood watch programs, citizens are decreasing their chances of becoming victims and I encourage all communities to get involved.”
Yetter added that most of these crimes into vehicles happen overnight. He said simply observing what’s going on around your neighborhood can go a long way in helping authorities catch such perpetrators.
“A lot of times the way we catch them is someone’s walking a dog, outside smoking a cigarette, and they give us a call and get a vehicle description,” Yetter said.
He said there has been no specific area, as car and outbuilding break-ins are very transient crimes.
“It’s happening pretty much all over, especially with thefts from outbuildings and cars,” he said. “They’ll hit certain suburbs and in one night hit 10 to 12 vehicles, sheds, or outbuildings. They’ll hit an area hard one night and move to another area. It’s a mobile operation. Most of the time it’s in neighborhoods where there’s a high volume of target.”
But the same is not true with home burglaries. Yetter said those typically occur during the daytime when residents are assumed to be at work and they’re generally on county roads where residents are spanned farther out than in a subdivision.
“Out on country roads we get a lot of burglaries because the houses are spread out, secluded, so it’s difficult for people to notice the activity,” he said.
He said burglars are often caught either by alarms or because they knock on the door and when no one answers, they assume no one is home when that’s not the case. He also said that the best thing to do is band as a community to always be on the lookout, and it’s not that hard of a process to get started.
“It’s pretty simple,” Yetter said. “Deputy Dave Stumm is our officer that runs that (neighborhood watch programs). We need to have people that want to get involved and be active in preventing the crime. The more eyes, the more observers we can get in an area. It’s a team effort between law enforcement and the community because we can’t be everywhere. You just develop team captains and have meetings that are facilitated by Stumm.
“Honestly, these types of crimes are unfortunately never going to go away, crimes of opportunity. I think sometimes people do get a little relaxed, let their guards down, maybe think their community is safer than it really is. But (criminals) can get to these items, turn around, sell them, and if people are leaving them in the car, it’s a pretty simple crime. It’s quick, easy items they can take with little effort and make quick money.”
Anyone interested in starting or renewing a Neighborhood Watch Program is asked to call Stumm at 538-6933 or Yetter at 745-4285.