Burglaries plague rural areas

For the third time in less than two weeks, burglars have broken into the homes of rural eastern Johnson County residents.

The same burglars also are likely ransacking homes in Shelby County, Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox and Shelby County Sheriff Dennis Parks said.

Jewelry, cash and televisions are being taken.

Two homes 11 miles apart were burglarized in Johnson and Shelby counties within hours of each other Wednesday, the sheriffs said. One or more burglars broke into a home in the 7000 block of East County Road 100S, south of State Road 44 near the Shelby County line, around 12:30 p.m. The garage door was broken, according to the police report.

In Shelby County, someone pried a window out of its frame of a home near Boggstown on Wednesday. A neighbor heard the house’s security alarm go off and looked for burglars, but by the time the neighbor arrived, the house already had been broken into and the thieves got away. About $400 worth of jewelry and cash were stolen from the home, according to the report from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. A fireproof safe was opened and the documents inside were stolen, the report said.

Since the start of the month, police in Johnson and Shelby counties have investigated at least five home break-ins near the county line. The burglaries have been within about 10 miles of each other.

But this time, unlike last week’s burglaries where about $8,000 worth of electronics, CDs, headphones and a guitar were stolen from two homes in Johnson and Shelby counties, investigators have a possible break in catching the thieves.

A home surveillance camera took photos of a vehicle parked in the driveway while the house was being burglarized in Shelby County on Wednesday. The surveillance footage shows a red sport utility vehicle, which might help residents or neighbors to recognize the vehicle, Cox said.

In a separate burglary, students were coming home from school in northwestern Shelby County, near Pleasant View, and found thieves in their home when they arrived. Two men who were in the home ran to a Pontiac van that was parked in the driveway and being driven by a woman. The young people followed the vehicle and took photos of it, until it stopped on a dead-end road. A man got out of the car and reached toward his waist, and the students feared he was reaching for a gun.

The young people drove away and saw the vehicle go into Marion County, according to a news release from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department.

Burglars most often hit homes in counties or communities other than where they live, Cox said.

If one group of burglars is caught, that could mean that a string of burglaries across county lines could stop, Parks said.

Jewelry and cash seem to be the common items stolen from the burglaries, Parks said. He and Cox said that the burglars are most likely looking for easy items to steal and sell or trade for drugs, they said.

“A lot of thefts and a lot of burglaries, it seems like drugs are related somehow,” Parks said. “I hate to say that, but it seems like when they get arrested, that seems to be one of the motivating factors.”

In two separate instances, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department has told Johnson County about a burglary that happened on the border of the counties, so officers could be aware of burglars. And a few hours later, a home in Johnson County was burglarized, Cox said.

Until about a month ago, Cox said, the number of residential burglaries in Johnson County was low.

“They go in spurts,” he said.

Anyone with tips about the burglaries or possible suspects can call Johnson County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 346-4654.