SEYMOUR, Ind - The Mayor of Seymour is among victims in a recent rash of break-ins and thefts involving about 40 vehicles around the city.
Seymour Police began investigating a string of reports that began two weeks ago. Investigators believe a small group of people is working together, looking for unlocked cars in order to steal valuables in them.
“I think you’re always going to have those crimes of opportunity,” said Seymour Police Public Information Officer, Jeremy Helmsing. “However, this is now becoming a rash of crimes.”
The ongoing investigation started after Seymour Police responded to a call about items stolen from several vehicles left unlocked at Rodriguez Auto shop on East Tipton Street. Surveillance video from a neighboring business shows a man walking through the lot and carrying away items taken from inside several vehicles.
Juan Rodriquez, whose father owns Rodriguez Auto, says extra precautions are now being taken to make sure vehicles on their lot are secured.
“We’re all locking every single car, we’re going through them every single night now,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes we’ll come here late nights and just check randomly.”
A similar incident later occurred at Bob Poynter Collision Center on Jackson Park Drive, Helmsing confirmed. After that, the crooks began targeting vehicles in surrounding neighborhoods.
“They don’t really care if there are cameras in the area,” Helmsing pointed out. “They don’t seem to look around or look over their shoulder or act suspicious. They just kind of go up to cars and start pulling on handles.”
“Individually, they usually don’t make off with more than 30 or 40 dollars in equipment or money,” Helmsing added. “However, it’s probably added up now to be in the thousands.”
Last Wednesday, about a week into the investigation, Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson walked out to his Jeep to discover he was the city’s latest victim.
“When I opened the driver’s door to the Jeep, there was a center console worth of stuff laying in the driver’s seat,” Nicholson recalled. “Instantly I knew from owning a Jeep, I looked over and there was a passenger seat full of glove box contents.”
Since Mayor Nicholson’s Jeep has a soft top, his personal preference is to keep the doors unlocked and make sure no valuables are inside the vehicle.
“My fear has always been that they will cut the soft top right behind the door,” Nicholson added. “And they really don’t need to because again, I’m never going to leave anything of value in it.”
In Nicholson’s case, the would-be thief walked away empty-handed.
“Even though I didn’t lose anything, you feel violated any time somebody goes through your stuff,” Nicholson said.
Helmsing pointed out there’s no information to suggest the crook knew the Jeep belonged to the Mayor when he or she rifled through it.
“They don’t really care who they’re targeting,” Helmsing said. “They’re looking for any door that’s open, including the Mayor of the city.”
Helmsing and Nicholson are urging Seymour residents to think twice before leaving any valuables in their cars and make sure any vehicles parked outside are secured.
“If you see somebody pulling on door handles or roaming around the neighborhood, go ahead and give the police a call and at least let them check on it,” Nicholson advised.