Police investigating series of smash and grabs near The Fashion Mall at Keystone

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Indianapolis police are investigating a series of smash and grabs around a popular north side shopping center.

In the last three days, the IMPD has taken three theft reports of cars being broken into near The Fashion Mall at Keystone.  More than a half dozen other reports have been taken near Castleton and along 86th Street this week.

In each case this week, the suspect smashed the car windows.  Some of the victims made a common mistake of leaving laptops and other electronics in plain sight.  Police say it’s a crime they see every day, but especially around the holidays.

Parking in the lot outside Benihana, one customer finished his lunch and got some bad news.

“Some guy walked up and said some guy broke into someone’s car and I thought that can't be me, but it was me,” said Dave Smiley.

Smiley, a longtime radio host in Indianapolis, says video surveillance shows the driver of a gray car pull up next to a red SUV.  After backing into the space, the suspect peered inside the window and eventually broke the back glass stealing a laptop, camera and more.

“It`s kind of grainy and hard to see, but you can see there was one person. They walked alongside of the car, looked in window and broke window grabbed it and ran,” said Smiley.

After sharing his story on air, Smiley learned he's not alone.

“We talked about it on the radio and one lady called in and said one guy she believes has been breaking into cars all along 86th Street,” said Smiley.

Indianapolis police say during the upcoming holiday season the department will step up patrols around retail areas to scare off potential criminals.

For his part, Smiley is characteristically upbeat even after his theft.  In fact, the red Tahoe that had the back window busted wasn't even his.  It was a loaner from a dealership.

“I'm gonna be fine. I'll call insurance and I'm sure I'll get a new laptop out of this,” laughed Smiley.

Still, police say it's important to remember leaving valuables in plain sight inside your car is a bad idea. That’s a lesson Smiley learned the hard way.

“Don't do what I did.  Make sure you throw a blanket over your stuff.  Don`t let it sit out where people can see it,” said Smiley.

This is not the first year IMPD has stepped up holiday patrols.  They say in addition to hiding your valuables, it’s also important for people to report any suspicious activity they see in parking lots.