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FISHERS, Ind. — Authorities in Fishers are warning residents to be extra vigilant after the department was called to investigate several home burglaries over the last week.

According to Fishers police, the department has received about nine reports of residential burglaries in the last year, with several of those recently happening in the Masthead and Hamilton Proper neighborhoods.

Homeowners have reported missing jewelry, cash and guns, according to police, who said many of the burglaries they’ve investigated appear to target the master bedroom of a home.

“Most of the burglaries that we’ve seen are forced entry; smash windows, targeted into the master bedroom so that they can just try and quickly grab jewelry and other valuables out of the master bedroom and leave before anybody sees them,” said Officer Jessica Stout.

“A lot of these burglaries have been targeted specifically around jewelry, so more high-end homes, their jewelry is stored out in the open and they can be really high-valued items,” she said, as she showed us the neighborhoods where the crimes have been reported.

Stout, who works in Fishers Police Department’s Public Information Office, said most of the burglaries have reportedly happened during the late evening hours. Police believe they’ve put their finger on who is allegedly involved.

“It appears to be a theft group, South American Theft Group (SATG). They’re groups that are formed in South America, a lot of times in Colombia, and they’re actually educated on how to commit these types of burglaries,” said Stout.

Stout said members of SATGs often enter a country by obtaining a travel visa, commit thefts and then send the proceeds back to their group.

“This happens all kinds of places. It happens in the United States, the U.K., Australia; it happens all over but these groups are really trained in how to do this type of theft,” said Stout.

Stout said the department has several people who work full time in its intel unit to try and pinpoint any crime trends, why those crimes may be happening and where those responsible for them are coming from, so they can try to tailor their policing to the trends.

“Our intelligence unit and our detectives work together to come up with what strategies the criminals are using so we can better to police against it,” said Stout.

She said, while they are urging residents to be hyper-vigilant, they aren’t necessarily concerned about the individuals having violent intentions.

“The good news is, in these thefts, part of the education is to try to avoid conflict with the homeowner, so it’s a little bit reassuring to know that, although yes they are attempting to commit a crime, they are trying to avoid contact with you,” said Stout.

Police said the individuals may come to a neighborhood three, four, even five times to sense what is happening in the neighborhoods so that they can do their best to avoid people altogether.

“This is really specific to when people are not home. So, the group they will sort of drive through the neighborhood to see a pattern of what homeowners are doing,” said Stout.

That’s why, Stout said, people should be taking extra precautions to protect their homes.

Stout recommends people invest in home security or doorbell system. As we rode along through the Hamilton Proper and Masthead neighborhoods on Monday, she pointed to some properties that appeared to have added security, something that can be crucial in helping to deter crime and monitor what’s going on outside your home and in the neighborhood.

“A lot of these homes have an ADT sign or other security system signs, and while those are a deterrent, you have to actually use your security system, so make sure that even if you’re in the house at night or while you’re gone, go ahead and arm your security system,” she said.

Fishers police offered the following home safety tips for residents:

  • Install exterior lights at all entrances and consider motion detector lights
  • Install a wide-angle viewer on all exterior doors
  • Do not open the door to anyone you don’t know. Always check before opening
  • Install good locks on all doors and windows and utilize the locks
  • Be sure locks on doors and windows are able to open quickly in event of a fire
  • Leave a light on when you’re not home. If you’re on vacation, use a timer to control lighting.
  • Don’t hide spare keys outside
  • Remove house keys from your keychain when your car is being serviced
  • Stop mail and newspaper delivery when you are away
  • Install an alarm system that will detect entry and notify police
  • Have your lawn mowed or driveaway shoveled when away
  • Close garage doors at night
  • Keep trees and bushes trimmed and do not let plants block doors or windows

Police also recommend you talk with trusted neighbors; keep an eye on their house and ask them to watch yours.

That’s what resident Jennifer Ferrar said her neighbors are all about. The moment they found out about the reported burglaries, she said they immediately reached out to one another.

“I heard about it on Nextdoor and then quickly went to my neighbors who were all on a neighborhood text chain and so obviously, a lot of us work from home, so we’re aware. We’re looking out our windows,” said Ferrar. “We’re on like a neighborhood text chain, if anyone needs any help, we’re always there.”

Ferrar said she is concerned to hear about the burglaries, but grateful that they were given so much information to be able to know precautions to take.

“I know we’re not free from crime but in a nice neighborhood like this, it’s very concerning to me,” said Stout. “I have children, a lot of people in this neighborhood have children and I think that’s what is the most scary about it.”

Ferrar said her neighbors will continue to do what is recommended by authorities, including making sure their alarm systems are armed even during the day, looking out for suspicious individuals or vehicles that appear out of place, and reporting anything unusual to police.

“Nobody deserves to become a victim, however, there are things that you can do to protect yourself,” said Stout. “I think people get a sense of complacency when they live in a neighborhood that feels secure.”

While police believe this to be an orchestrated effort and said that those likely responsible are entering the homes of strangers and stealing, Stout said every crime like this feels especially personal to a victim. They’re hoping to prevent anyone else from experiencing that.

“As a homeowner who has a stranger come into your home, that can feel really personal. It’s an invasion of your privacy that can be really unsettling,” Stout said. “So, we just want to spread the word about this to try and prevent that from happening because you’re victimized and more than one way and that can be a really hard thing to deal with.”

Anyone with exterior security cameras living in either Hamilton Proper or Masthead neighborhoods is encouraged to call Fishers Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 317-595-3300.

If you see suspicious people, vehicles or activity, call 911 right away, police said. They also offered tips on what might constitute suspicious activity and said that these are just suggestions. If something seems out of place to you, call police:

  • Adults or juveniles walking casually through the neighborhood looking into windows, backyards, vehicles, etc.
  • A vehicle driving slowly through your neighborhood with or without lights on
  • Something wakes you in the night
  • Someone you don’t know rings your doorbell
  • An unknown car parked near your home containing one or more people