GREENFIELD — Local police are looking to reunite local residents with their Christmas presents after three Indianapolis teens were caught stealing packages from the front porches of local homes, officials said.
Electronics, gift cards, clothing and toys now litter detectives’ offices at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department — all presents recovered from three teenage suspects who police say were stealing would-be gifts from New Palestine and Indianapolis neighborhoods late last week, officials said.
Now, investigators say they are looking to place packages — many of which were taken out of the box bearing the recipient’s address — back in the care of their rightful owners so the mishap doesn’t spoil the holiday.
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Investigators say they caught the teens after a neighbor spotted them peeking into mailboxes and swiping items from the front porches of homes in western Hancock County and the southside of Indianapolis late last week.
The suspects were taking the packages, opening and rifling through them and stealing the items they found most interesting before dumping the remainder on the side of the road, said Hancock County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Bridget Foy.
Now, Cameron D. Gaines, 18, 4323 Woodland Drive, Indianapolis; Jacob M. Bledsoe, 19, 4022 Gray Arbor Way, Indianapolis; and Evan A. France, 18, 1331 Murphy Landings Drive, Indianapolis, face one misdemeanor charge of theft each in Hancock County Superior Court 2, according to court records.
They were arrested late Thursday and held in jail overnight, records show. They were each released on $600 cash bond after pleading not guilty to the accusation.
Witnesses called 911 after seeing the teens driving slowly around New Palestine neighborhoods and occasionally peering into mailboxes, as if looking for items to steal, Foy said.
One witness told police he saw one of the boys run up onto his neighbor’s porch and take a box that had been left by a postal worker. The man watched as the teens drove away and tossed the empty box out the window of their car, police said.
Officers caught up with the teens and pulled them over; inside the car, they found dozens of items including new cellphones, watches, tool sets and toys. Detectives believe the items were intended to be presents, and they want to help connect them to their rightful owners once the investigation has come to a close.
Foy said New Palestine residents who were expecting packages to be delivered late last week but are missing mail may contact the sheriff’s department at 317-477-1147. Residents must provide proof they purchased the item and that it was set to be delivered around the date the thefts took place, she said.
Foy recommends residents ask their neighbors to keep an eye out for packages that will be delivered when they aren’t home. Making arrangements with trusted friends to collect their mail is an easy way to ensure items won’t be stolen, she said.
Gaines, Bledsoe and France each pleaded not guilty Monday to Class A misdemeanor count of theft, records show. The charge carries a maximum penalty of one year.