INDIANAPOLIS — Police are investigating after receiving more than two dozen reports of break-ins and acts of vandalism to vehicles over the weekend in a parking lot in downtown Indy near Victory Field.
According to police reports filed by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), officers took 15 reports on Saturday for vehicle break-ins and one report of a vehicle that had been vandalized in the 500 block of W Maryland Street.
On Sunday, officers took 10 more reports of vehicle break-ins and three reports of vehicles vandalized.
Police reports show that items stolen include designer purses, a laptop, college books, a military uniform, in one case, $7,500 in cash and at least 10 guns.
Several victims reported having windows in their vehicle broken, with no items missing, while others reported their property had been stolen. One of those people was Brandi Dawkins, who said the crime has left her feeling violated.
Dawkins was attending a concert at White River State Park and noticed police cars in the lot as she walked across the street and back to her SUV.
“When we got closer, my sister noticed her door was open and then she noticed that my car window had been smashed,” she said. “That’s when I went into immediate shock and I ran over to the police officer and I was like, ‘oh my god my car has been broken into’.”
A police report showed Dawkins found her Louis Vuitton purse and wallet missing, along with personal items that were inside it like her social security number card, credit cards and a paper with financial information written on it.
Dawkins called the crime ‘disheartening’ and said she is less concerned with items that can be replaced, and more concerned about who has her information and what they could do with it.
“It’s just so disturbing knowing that somebody out there has my personal belongings that I don’t know,” said Dawkins. “It’s so disheartening. I hardly ever go anywhere because I’m married with children and then when I go out thinking that I’m just going to an R&B concert, things will be great, and I come out to know that I’ve been violated.”
Dawkins said she learned she wasn’t able to bring her bag into the show, so the only options were to check it in with staff or put it back in her car. Protected by tinted windows, locked doors and hidden away, she said she felt more comfortable with that option and never thought she’d come out to her items gone and a deep feeling of violation.
“I had trouble sleeping that night, like I thought about who has my information currently,” said Dawkins.
She said she is less concerned with the physical items stolen, but she said one inconvenience she knows she’s not alone in facing, is dealing with the damage to her SUV. Unable to get an appointment to have it fixed until Tuesday, Dawkins said she had to wait, juggling sharing a vehicle with other family and having to find a place to take a look at it.
Unfortunately, that didn’t come with great news for Dawkins.
“Then I just got a call about an hour ago saying that I had to pick up my car because there’s body damage done to the door,” she said.
Staff at the autobody shop where she took her vehicle discovered damage done to the door frame, which may require more extensive fixes. Dawkins could be looking at several thousand dollars for the repairs, and until those happen, her window still remains taped up with a bag.
“It was very, very disturbing to come out of a concert, thinking we had a good time, to find something like that. I feel very vandalized,” she said.
Police are also concerned over the number of vehicle break-ins and thefts reported over the weekend, however, they said even one is too many.
“It’s always disturbing and very concerning when we have this amount, or any amount, even one particular theft, however, this particular case is very concerning,” said IMPD public information officer William Young.
He said people should remove valuables out of their cars and, if you’re unable to, the next best option is locking it in a secure box or location out of sight.
“A lot of times criminals look for crimes of opportunities,” said Young.
As investigators continue to look into the weekend reports, Young said this type of crime spree is something that is more common around the holidays, like Christmas time.
“Folks are out shopping, we’ll see some thefts out of vehicles, so again, it’s important that we must take our valuables out of our cars,” said Young.
That also includes firearms. Police reports detail at least 10 guns stolen, including two stolen during one vehicle theft.
“It’s always important to never leave your firearm inside of a vehicle unattended, so we would hope that most gun owners would be responsible, using locking mechanisms. Even if you’re in your own home,” said Young. “Those things matter because we want to practice good gun safety.”
“We hope that the main thing is that it doesn’t land in the hands of the wrong person,” said Young.
Although the crimes didn’t occur during an event at Victory Field, a spokesperson for the Indianapolis Indians at Victory Field said they are evaluating security procedures with the organization’s security firm, to ensure they are doing everything possible to protect the property of guests.
Anyone with information is asked to call IMPD, or Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana, anonymously, at 317-262-TIPS.
Efforts to track gun crimes, hold suspects accountable
There are law enforcement officers working to remove illegal firearms from criminals by tracking gun crimes and shooting suspects who travel beyond county lines, throughout the state and even beyond.
The Indiana Crime Guns Task Force (ICGTF) includes law enforcement agencies in Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion, Morgan, Johnson and Shelby counties. It also includes federal partners like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana.
“Their sole focus is to go after those committing gun crimes, especially those committing gun crimes across jurisdictional boundaries,” said Lawrence Police Chief Gary Woodruff. “Crime knows no borders. They know no jurisdictional boundaries, so what we’re finding are the people committing crimes in Indianapolis and Marion County, are the same ones committing crimes in Plainfield and Fishers and contiguous counties and even beyond that.”
Lawrence police are not involved in the weekend investigation related to break-ins and thefts in Indianapolis, but Lawrence is one of the agencies that works collectively with the ICGTF.
Woodruff said the task force looks to hold accountable trigger-pullers, people who are possessing guns and using them in crimes.
He said, while it is important not to blame victims, he can’t reiterate enough how important it is for people to secure their firearms so that they don’t unintentionally end up in the hands of someone to use in a crime.
“It’s incumbent that responsible gun owners to ensure that their firearms, all of our firearms, all of us who are responsible gun owners, are secure when they are not directly in our possession. That doesn’t negate the fact that somebody is committing a crime just by breaking into a residence or breaking into a vehicle to steal that firearm, that’s the first crime,” said Woodruff. “But, you can be guaranteed that if your firearm is stolen from your vehicle or residence in another way, that that firearm is more likely than not, to be used in the commission of a violent crime.”
Woodruff said several simple, cost-effective solutions can help ensure security of a gun when it’s not directly in a gun owners’ possession.
“There are many safe-type solutions that will fit inside your vehicle, with locking solutions that will fit inside your vehicle, where your firearm is readily accessible, but you still have that extra layer of security for your vehicle if you are making the choice to leave a firearm unattended, which is not necessarily recommended, but there are additional measures one can take to ensure the security of that firearm,” said Woodruff.
As the regional task force works to take a laser-focus on suspects who have fired a gun in an illegal way at least twice, police say any steps people can take to help protect their guns from getting in the wrong hands, the better.