NEW PALESTINE — Police are warning residents in and around the New Palestine area to keep an eye on their cars and property.
Police have taken more than a dozen reports of car break-ins, many located off Gem Road north of U.S. 52.
Break-ins have been reported on Quail Run Drive, Stinemyer Road and in the Countryside and Gem Meadows subdivisions over the past several days. In some cases, the suspects targeted unlocked vehicles or garages; in others, they smashed windows before rummaging for valuables, police said.
Police suspect there have been at least 20 break-ins in recent weeks and have filed reports on stolen guns, cash and other valuables.
“Everywhere that has a New Palestine zip code is the preying grounds right now,” said sheriff’s Capt. Ted Munden, head of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department’s investigations unit, which is leading the investigation. “We think (the suspects are) people who are targeting suburban areas.”
Officials say they suspect the break-ins are the work of adults, not juveniles. One witness reported seeing an adult running from the area, police said.
Investigators have advised area residents to take their valuables out of their cars and trunks and put them securely inside their homes.
Munden suspects there have been more break-ins in the area than police have heard about; some victims choose not to make a police report if nothing has been taken, he said.
Police are encouraging residents to keep their eyes open and report any suspicious activity in their neighborhoods, including people out at night or vehicles that aren’t typically seen in the area. Even extra patrol cars aren’t as helpful as those sharp-eyed neighbors who know the people and vehicles that are familiar to the area, officials said.
The perpetrators have found the New Palestine area easy pickings; many residents leave their cars and doors unlocked, Munden said.
Authorities are looking over video from one of the break-ins, but results are not in yet. If anyone has any information or video they think might be useful they are encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Department at 317-477-1199.