IMPD, Johnson County Sheriffs jointly investigating car break-ins

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Indianapolis Metropolitan Police and Johnson County Sheriff’s officials say they are working together to track down suspects believed to be responsible for dozens of vehicle break-ins over the last several weeks.

Dozens of vehicle owners have reported smashed windshields and items stolen from cars in the Edgewood Avenue and Banta Road areas of Indianapolis, as well as the Wakefield West and Woodland Streams neighborhoods in the Greenwood area.

Video released by Sheriff Doug Cox last week showed what appeared to be a white male in a hooded sweatshirt and mask, using a flashlight to pear into a parked vehicle before calmly walking away.  Since the video was released, other theft victims in southwest Indianapolis have shared their own home security videos from break-ins into their vehicles.  The video appears to show the same man, along with at least one other man, committing the same crime.

“There is one specifically that appears to be the same person in several of the videos,” said IMPD Captain Rebecca Lake.  “We have enough video to say it looks like a similar person, but not enough to make a positive ID.  And that one phone call when somebody is walking through the neighborhood might be all that we need.”

The latest rash of break-ins was discovered Sunday morning as victims along Banta Road found their vehicle windows smashed.  Robert Turner, in the 800 block of W. Banta Road, captured at least two suspects on his home security camera system.  He says four of his vehicles were broken into.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Turner, “about eight weeks ago I had a truck and trailer stolen across the street.”

Turner’s video appears to show the same man as the suspect captured in the Johnson County video.  Other neighbors down the street say their cameras caught the same suspects breaking into their vehicles as well.  One victim, in the 5800 block of Garden Drive captured what appears to be the same initial suspect during a vehicle break-in on January 10.  That victim says the same suspect had looked into his vehicle on December 31. On the morning of January 10, the suspect visited the car at 3am, then came back again to break in around 5am.

Captain Lake says the suspects are bold, and they seem to know what they’re doing.  In each video, the man in the sweatshirt is wearing a heavy backpack and carrying a flashlight for looking into car windows.  One video appears to show the man using some kind of tool to open a locked vehicle door.  Another man seen in the same video appears to be wearing a flashlight on his head.

Lake says the suspects appear calm, and they don’t panic when they set off a car alarm.

“You’ll see them take a couple of fast steps away and then kind of slowly leave after that,” Lake said.  “Again, trying not to draw attention to themselves.”

At this point in the investigation, the suspects are covering enough ground to make detectives assume they are traveling in a vehicle to get to different neighborhoods.  One of Turner’s neighbors told him she spotted a dark-colored Chevy Avalanche with chrome accents leaving the Banta Road area around the time of the most recent break-ins.  That neighbor followed the vehicle until it pulled into a drive and continued running for several minutes.

The most solid lead in the case could be a stolen Starbucks card.  One victim on Banta Road says the Starbucks card that was stolen from her car was used at a Starbucks location around 9:00pm Sunday.  Detectives hope to learn which Starbucks location that was.

“It would be really nice to have one of these guys on video using a stolen card.”