Why might a criminal choose you? Find out


Daily Reporter Staff Writer

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CUMBERLAND — It was the type of event that captured the attention of young and old, a testament that crime crosses not just county but generational lines.

The presentation titled “Why might a criminal choose you?” focused on burglary prevention by educating residents on how to make their property less attractive to thieves.

About 50 people were at Cumberland Town Hall Tuesday night for the first of three free crime prevention workshops, a presentation hosted by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and the Multi-Jurisdictional Offender Strategy Team. The event was held in partnership with the Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and the Greenfield Police Department.

The youngest person in the room said he saw a post about the workshop on Facebook and convinced his mom they should attend.

“This is stuff we really need to know that we won’t become a target,” said Seth Young, 12. “I want to do everything I can to make sure we’re safe.”

Seth and his mother, Natalie Young, of New Palestine, attended the event and listened intently to the advice, which they said they would pass along to friends and neighbors.

Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said the purpose of the night was to share information with residents so they could better protect their communities.

“We all know that with the weather getting warmer, people with nefarious intent are also outside,” Eaton said. “We want you to have a same home and neighborhood.”

Officials started the evening by asking one question: Why might a criminal choose you?

Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Daphne Whitmire said there are simple things homeowners can do to reduce the risk of being targeted by criminals.

“If a burglar thinks they’re more likely to be observed, they’ll be less likely to break in,” Whitmire said.

That means lighting and landscaping make a big difference. Homes that give the impression they are maintained mean they’re more likely to be monitored. Trimming shrubs, installing motion-sensor lighting and fixing broken windows are small steps homeowners can take to deter criminals.

Ninety percent of crimes happen after dark, but home burglaries are more likely to occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. while residents are at work or school, presenters said. The average home burglary takes between four and seven minutes, and the five items criminals steal most include jewelry, cash, electronics, guns and prescription medication, they said.

Criminals will often check for unlocked doors and windows, targeting the homes that are easiest to access, Whitmire said.

Even if a door is locked, a home might still be attractive to a criminal if the view of access points — doors and windows — is obscured, providing a hiding place for a burglar.

Cumberland resident George Morrell, who is organizing a crime watch group in the Valley Brook Farms subdivision, said the information was something he will pass along to everyone in his neighborhood.

“You’ve got to know what’s going on, because crime isn’t going away,” Morrell said. “I’ve got a lot of notes to share after tonight.”

Hancock County Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Rasche said he feels these workshops are important not just because they pass along tips to the public but because they encourage cooperation among area law enforcement departments.

“Just because we respect county lines doesn’t mean a burglar will,” Rasche said. “I think a lot of our success in tracking down these criminals is networking together. It’s good not just to get out and meet the public but to build relationships with other law enforcement agencies.”

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There are two more opportunities to see the crime prevention presentation “Why might a criminal choose you?” in the coming months. 

Workshops will be at 7 p.m. July 13 at NineStar Connect, 2243 E. Main St., Greenfield, and at 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at the McCordsville Town Hall, 6280 W. County Road 800N.

The events are free and open to the public.

The presentation will cover simple and effective crime prevention tips to protect businesses, homes and personal property.

For more information, contact Daphne Whitmore at 317-327-1420.

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Presenters provided these tips for keeping your home and property safe:

  • Do not hide spare keys.
  • Break down and recycle boxes of electronics purchases instead of leaving them visible on trash day.
  • Be selective about information placed in obituaries; listing a person’s hobbies, for example, suggests items that might be in the unattended home. 
  • Avoid posting detailed vacation information on social media, as it can suggest when you’re away from home.
  • Create a personal property inventory record, including serial numbers of electronics.