INDIANAPOLIS — The owner of Pawn Shop Pub said he’s come to expect armed robberies and burglaries in his corner of commerce off East 54th Street and North Keystone Avenue every year during the Indiana State Fair, as Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department North District officers are busy securing the fairgrounds two miles to the south.

Jennie Murray has tended a bar and worked in the vicinity of the 54th Street shops for 29 years, and she agrees with Pawn Shop Pub’s owner.

”They’re busy with the other events that Indianapolis offers,” Murray said. “And I think the criminals know that.”

Several small businesses in the strip mall have been targeted lately in armed robberies and seemingly professional burglaries.

“The Mississippi Belle restaurant got held up at gunpoint,” said Melissa Clawson of American Legion Post 34. “Indy Taco got hit. The laundromat was hit. Most recent was the pawn shop. They destroyed their office completely. They took out part of our fence to do that job.”

In an obvious answer to a dumb question, Melissa told FOX59 and CBS4 what she thought the thieves were looking for.

“Money. They busted his ATM,” she said, pointing toward a burglarized laundromat. “They busted his coin machines. They got his two guns in there. They took his protection.”

The Legion hosted a meeting Sunday to gather residents, neighborhood customers and business owners to develop a community based strategy for defending themselves and their properties from crime.

”We’ve already discussed putting together a business association,” said Clawson said. “Maybe getting some guidance from the Broad Ripple Association.”

”I think, amongst ourselves, if IMPD is not capable, we should come together as a community and hire security,” Murray said.

One man said his home had been recently burglarized on a nearby street. A TV and cash were taken were taken from his residence.

”This is why I put this together,” Clawson said. “Not in my front yard. I been here for 25 years in this neighborhood. I take great pride in it.”

Clawson said Monday morning she would be calling the commander of IMPD’s North District to discuss suggestions on how the neighbors and business owners can better protect themselves.