Thieves target day care parking lots in Johnson County

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. – Authorities in Johnson County are urging people, especially parents of young children, to be on the lookout for criminals who are targeting day car parking lots this week.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office took reports of car windows being smashed at two day care facilities within 15 minutes Monday morning.

Cassandra Rutherford says she was inside the Goddard School off Morgantown Road less than five minutes to drop her son off just after 7 a.m. Her car was parked outside close to the front entrance.

“I always leave it running, and I leave it locked,” Rutherford said. “I have my purse on my floorboard, on the passenger side.”

When Cassandra came outside, she noticed a small hole in her passenger side window. Seconds later, the rest of the window broke apart and shattered.

Surveillance video at the Goddard School shows a red or maroon SUV or minivan pull into the parking lot a few seconds after Cassandra walked inside. The minivan can be seen backing into the parking space next to Cassandra’s car. A person can be seen getting out of the van and looking into Cassandra’s passenger side window. Moments later, the video shows the man reaching his hands to the window to break the glass.

Sheriff’s investigators believe the suspect used a window-breaking tool to shatter the glass.

Fortunately for Cassandra, another car pulled into the parking lot and apparently scared the suspects off before they had a chance to grab her purse from the car.

“Thirty seconds and it was done,” she said. “And someone just happened to be pulling into the entrance to the school and scared them off. So luckily that happened, otherwise they would have probably been able to grab my purse.”

About 15 minutes later, Amanda White remembers seeing a similar red or maroon vehicle sitting in the parking lot of Adventures Child Care Center as she arrived to drop off her daughter. She says somebody was sitting in the vehicle with the engine running. After being inside less than five minutes, she came out to find her rear passenger side window shattered.

“I didn’t take notice of who was in the car, but I think that that person is probably who may have broken into my car,” Amanda said.

Especially, she says, because it’s not uncommon to see an SUV or minivan sitting in a day care parking lot.

Amanda says she didn’t have her purse in her car, but she had left her lunch box and some candy sitting under her coat.

“They must have believed that to be a purse,” Amanda said. “So they yanked my coat, threw it in the back seat and took the lunch box and the candy.”

Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox says this looks like the work of the Felony Lane Gang, who are known for targeting parking lots at day cares, gyms and other places where people often leave valuables in their car. Felony Lane Gang suspects commonly search for unlocked cars or break into locked cars that appear to have purses and bags inside. Then, they quickly take stolen debit cards to banks, attempting to draw cash before victims have a chance to cancel their stolen cards.

“It definitely feels like a violation,” Amanda said. “It’s scary to think that person was within range of my child and myself.”

“I guess it’s a life lesson now to turn my car off and bring my purse in,” Cassandra said. “I thought it was pretty safe.”

Authorities are asking everyone to refrain from leaving valuables, or things that appear valuable, in their cars.

Anyone with information about these cases is asked to call the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

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