Burglars target apartments after fire, steal Christmas presents and other items

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind - As if being forced to evacuate their homes during an apartment fire ten days before Christmas wasn’t bad enough, some southeast side residents are learning they’ve also become burglary victims.

Bob Roland and Steven Reidy are two of the 75 residents who were displaced by a Dec. 15 fire at the Sawmill Apartments, near the I-65, I-465 interchange. Although they haven’t been able to move back into their units due to smoke and water damage, they have been able to return and retrieve some items. It was during one of those trips that they discovered somebody had paid their apartments an unwelcome visit.

“When we came back Monday at nine o’clock to get my wife’s knee brace, that’s when we realized that it was missing,” Reidy said.

Some time over the weekend, somebody had been inside the apartments of Reidy and Roland and stole multiple items; TVs, laptops, tools, jewelry and other valuables were gone.

Worst of all, the burglars stole all the gifts from under both families’ Christmas trees.

Roland and his wife have two foster daughters, ages 5 and 6. He doesn’t know what to tell them about what happened.

“They have no Christmas presents,” Roland said. “Everything that was donated through Make A Wish Foundation, all gone. Everything we bought, all gone.”

“It’s ridiculous,” Reidy said. “I mean if you can’t go out and work for it yourself, then you shouldn’t need it. Don’t be taking from other people.”

It’s still not clear exactly how or when the suspects got into the apartments. Since the fire, maintenance and restoration crews have been working throughout the building. Doors have been left unlocked at times. Roland says he and other residents were told by property managers that security was on hand at the building until midnight on the night of the fire. He says he can’t get a straight answer about securing the building since that time.

The door to the leasing office was locked Wednesday afternoon, despite a sign in the window that said “open.” A man in the office answered the door and told CBS4 he had no comment about security at the damaged building.

When asked further about the issue, he said the building was boarded up. When CBS4 pointed out that the building was not boarded up, and doors were unlocked, the man said it was open that day for contractors. He had no further comment on the matter.

Both Roland and Reidy have reported their burglaries to Indianapolis Metropolitan Police. Both men want the suspects caught, but Roland, especially, is now hoping for a Christmas miracle for his two young girls.

“We want our stuff back,” Roland said. “The girls need their presents. Please just bring it back.”

If you're wanting to help the families in this story, send an email to CBS4's Zach Myers.

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