A man has been arrested after a string of car break-ins, and now police are looking to return some of what was stolen.
Police in Whiteland and New Whiteland got reports of 25 vehicles that were broken into during a two-day span at the beginning of the month. Residents reported cellphone chargers, sunglasses and prescription pills had been stolen from cars, and at least one caught the thief on video.
This week, police saw a man, carrying a backpack in a Whiteland neighborhood early in the morning. When they questioned him, they found a prescription pill bottle in his backpack, which had been reported stolen from a woman’s car that had been broken into.
Trevor Ellis, 18, 180 West St., Whiteland, was arrested on two charges of theft, possession of a controlled substance and unlawful entry into a motor vehicle.
Later that week, police called each person who filed a report after their car had been broken into to come and see if any of the recovered property belonged to them, New Whiteland Police Chief Ed Stephenson said.
After the break-ins were reported, police in Whiteland and New Whiteland were routinely communicating and being extra vigilant in watching what was going on in the community, Stephenson said.
Just after midnight Wednesday, a Whiteland police officer spotted Ellis walking along Meadowlark Drive in a neighborhood off U.S. 31. Because of the recent break-ins, officers stopped Ellis to ask him where he was going. Ellis also matched the height and body type of the person police saw in home surveillance footage, Stephenson said.
Ellis told police he was going to a friend’s house, but when police asked him for the friend’s last name or address, he didn’t have one. Police didn’t believe Ellis’ story, and asked to search his backpack, according to the report.
Inside the backpack, police found the prescription bottle of a woman who reported her medication was stolen during the string of car break-ins. And as the officers looked over that report, they found that the backpack Ellis was carrying matched the description of the one that was stolen from the same woman’s car, according to the report.
Ellis told police he broke into vehicles in Whiteland and New Whiteland earlier this month, and more stolen property was at the house where he is staying, according to the report. He told police he had recently been released from the Marion County Jail, where he had been arrested as part of a vehicle break-in case, the report said.
Police found some of the items reported missing from cars, such as sunglasses and phone chargers, Stephenson said.
Solving a crime quickly serves as a deterrent to any thief or thieves that may be contemplating a similar spree, Stephenson said.
“I don’t know if the average citizen thinks about (making a quick arrest) as a deterrent, but we do,” Stephenson said. “We worked very closely with Whiteland and advised our night officers to watch for people walking around — they did their job.”
Ellis was taken to Johnson County jail and held on $8,000 bond.