INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 20, 2014) - Police are investigating a series of car break-ins around busy shopping centers, right before the holiday season. Three cars had windows smashed out in the parking lot of popular restaurants surrounding The Fashion Mall.
Other cars were targeted on 82nd Street and in a restaurant parking lot across from the Castleton Square Mall.
One victim, Nina Powell, was at Maggiano's Little Italy for a work event. She was inside the restaurant for less than an hour but during that time the thieves broke into the car and used her credit card.
"I mean I didn't feel like I was being watched but they were pretty quick," said Powell.
Powell, a Deputy Fire Marshal for IFD, was driving her city-issued car emblazoned with the fire department logo. She said it's sad to think someone would be desperate enough to break into a fire department vehicle.
"It just taught me a big lesson, not to assume just because you're a public servant in your city vehicle it doesn't mean anything," said Powell. She continued, "You still have to be very careful."
Officers with IMPD's North District already do regular patrols in the mall area but it's about to increase. Shoppers will see an increased police presence beginning next week and throughout the holiday shopping season. Some officers will also patrol the mall parking lot on bikes.
Police are asking shoppers to be aware of their surroundings. Officers caution people to not get caught up in the holiday rush, and take time to make sure any valuables in their car are out of sight. Police say it's best to avoid leaving anything of value in a parked car.
Investigators don't know for sure but it's possible the thieves were watching victims and waiting for the right opportunity. According to police reports show the thieves made off with electronics, including laptop computers.
"We get very few witnesses so they know what they're doing. You would think breaking out a car window and stealing things, items you would think that would create enough commotion that people would see something but we rarely get any witnesses to these crimes," said Sgt. Mark Dorsey, IMPD.
The following statement was issued from the mall:
"The security of our shoppers and employees is our top priority. Our shopping centers have a strong and active partnership with the IMPD and our mall security program utilizes a combination of private security and off duty law enforcement. Additional security patrols are put in place in mall parking lots and garages throughout the holiday season. Shoppers are encouraged to take precautions by not leaving bags or valuables in sight inside vehicles and to contact mall security or IMPD if they see anything suspicious."
If you have any information call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.