Sheriff urges residents to park in garages after rash of break-ins

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GREENWOOD, Ind. -- The Johnson County Sheriff is urging area residents to take more precautions with their vehicles and belongings as his department investigates the latest rash of vehicle break-ins to hit the county.

“If they can get a vehicle in the garage, use it,” said Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox. “Because your items are not safe anymore. And I don’t care where you live.”

The warning comes as investigators search for the suspect believed to be responsible for more than a dozen thefts from vehicles in the Center Grove area in the last several days.

At least fifteen vehicle owners have reported thefts and unlawful entry into their vehicles since the crimes were discovered Friday morning. Most of the break-ins have targeted the Wakefield West and Woodland Streams neighborhoods.

Home surveillance video from one attempted theft shows a white male subject, appearing to be in his teens or 20s, wearing what looks like an Adidas hooded sweatshirt. The suspect is seen walking from the street onto a property before using a flashlight to look into a parked vehicle. The suspect also came prepared with a backpack.

“This young man looks awful calm, awful relaxed,” Cox said. “Walks in front of the house at 3:47 in the morning without a care in the world.”

Based on the video evidence, Cox also believes the suspect lives near the neighborhoods where the thefts have been reported.

“In the video, I can seem him walking from the street and when I look down the street, I don’t see a video sitting nearby,” Cox said.

Loose change, electronics, jewelry and gift cards are among the items stolen. At one location, a state prison ID was reported missing.

But Cox is most concerned with three guns reported stolen from victims’ vehicles.

“Obviously, that is a big concern for us that three firearms are now in the wrong hands,” Cox said. “You take the incident in Greenwood just a few nights ago, we don’t need guns in the wrong hands.”

Patricia Adams and her family noticed Monday night that somebody had rummaged through their SUV, which was parked on Pennswood Road. Their next door neighbor had already reported a theft from their vehicle just days before.

“Aggravation more than anything,” Adams said, reacting to the crime. “I’m not really scared of them, I mean they’re probably punk kids running around.”

Cox said some of the vehicles targeted by the thief had been left unlocked, but others had shattered windshields.

Adams said her family makes a habit of locking their vehicle when it is parked outside. The thief apparently managed to get into the vehicle without smashing any windshields.

“Go out and get a job,” Adams said. “It’s not hard. McDonalds is always hiring.”

Anyone with information on the thefts is asked to contact the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department.