Even a casual survey of daily crime reports will show the frequency of vehicle break-ins in Johnson County and especially in Center Grove area subdivisions. Sadly, many of those thefts were preventable, as the vehicles were left unlocked or the items stolen were left in plain view.
Every summer, vehicle break-ins are the leading reason for calls and reports to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and typically what consume most of investigators’ time, Sheriff Doug Cox said. And the quiet, dimly lit Center Grove area neighborhoods often are a hot spot for incidents, most likely due to the purses, wallets, coins, cash and electronics that thieves expect to find in the vehicles.
Nearly 20 reports of missing or stolen property from vehicles were made over one two-week span, and the items stolen included prescription pills, spare keys, designer jewelry and purses, hundreds of dollars in cash, clothes and an iPod. Other reports came from residents who woke up to find items of lesser value scattered across their yards, left behind by the thieves.
One suspect pawned many of the stolen items, such as power tools, string trimmers, GPS units and cellphones. During the past 90 days, that suspect has pawned 71 items investigators believe to be stolen, according to investigators. It’s one of several tell-tale signs that the Center Grove area is often hit the hardest by vehicle break-ins because the loot is usually worth the risk.
Cox said he wants residents to be smarter about preventing their vehicle or home from being broken into. And that starts by simply locking vehicles, he said.
Removing valuables from vehicles is another way to avoid being a victim of vehicle break-ins. Taking photos of items and copying serial numbers are two ways residents can assist police in retrieving items that were stolen once they are sold to pawn shops or returning items that are later found or recovered.
The sheriff said the biggest problems investigators found were residents who didn’t realize their vehicles had been broken into because there was no sign of forced entry and residents not remembering what was in the vehicle so they didn’t know items were missing.
Cox offered several tips to deter vehicle break-ins:
- Lock your vehicles.
- Park in the driveway or garage.
- Leave an outside light on.
- Do not leave firearms in your vehicle.
- Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle.
- Know what is in your vehicle, including serial numbers of electronics and other personal belongings.
- If you see suspicious or unfamiliar vehicles, call 911.
- If your vehicle has been broken into, make a police report.
- If you find out your vehicle has been broken into, or you want to report a suspicious vehicle, or activity call the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office emergency line at 317-736-5155, or dial 911.
- If residents are still hesitant of calling an emergency line, they can dial 317-736-9155.
Becoming proactive and keeping an eye on your neighborhood is a good start to preventing break-ins. And when you see something that isn’t right, it probably isn’t, so don’t hesitate to dial 911.
Thefts from vehicles are a frequent occurrence in Johnson County.
Residents should remain aware, report any suspicious activity and keep their vehicles locked and valuable items stowed away.