County law enforcement continues work on burglaries, citizen help needed

398

Switzerland County and much of Southeastern Indiana has been hit with a rash of break-ins and burglaries of late, and officers from both the Vevay Police Department and the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department are continuing to search for information in finding and arresting those responsible.

The latest break-ins in Vevay involved the Vevay SuperValu and Striker’s Bowling Center on the east side of town, and Police Chief James Richards said that his department is looking for information from the community to help solve these and other crimes.

“There have been vehicles involved in some of these break-ins, but a lot of them are walk ups,” James Richards said. “They are parking a vehicle a block or so away, then walking to their target. We need people to continue to be on the lookout for suspicious people walking around town at strange hours.”

James Richards said that criminals have also been unsuccessful in breaking into some local establishments, and said that his office is working different leads towards apprehending those responsible.

“We’re not looking at people who are just driving up, knocking out a window and grabbing what they can,” James Richards said. “They have a plan. I think the businesses are being looked at and being checked out before they come in and do the burglaries.”

Out in the county, the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department is seeing a rise in break-ins to private homes.

“They’re taking just about anything,” Sheriff’s Department detective Richard Lock said. “Mostly tools. Chainsaws, anything that they can quickly sell or pawn off real quick. Things like that. They got a couple of four-wheelers, but we’ve recovered one of those. It was up in Hamilton, Ohio.”

Richard Lock said that much of the stolen merchandise from the county heads to the Cincinnati area, and he said that it is important to find those items and get them back because it ties the item to someone, helping with the prosecution of that individual when it comes to trial.

“We know names,” Richard Lock said. “We’re pretty sure we know we’re probably looking at the right guys, but we’ve got to have something to tie it to them. It’s not as easy as just going out and arresting somebody because you think that they did it. You also have to prove in a court of law that they did it, and for that you need evidence.”

Most of the break-ins are happening at random times, so law enforcement officials remind everyone to keep their homes and other buildings locked and secured while they are away.

Others need to be on the lookout for unusual spending patterns and other actions.

“People need to look out for people who are buying things without seeming to have any way of having the money,” James Richards said. “Kids who are buying things but they don’t have a job. Those types of actions are a warning signal to parents and others.”

Officers believe that the break-ins are several groups around the county, noting that some arrests have been made; but separate groups are still at large.

“It’s from one end of the county to the other,” Chief Deputy Roy Leap said. “It’s not just in Switzerland County, it’s all over.”

“People have to be aware of their surroundings and they have to call us when they see something out of the ordinary,” Richard Lock said. “They have to watch out for their neighbors.”

“Watch your children, too,” James Richards said. “I believe that some of this stems from narcotic use. They don’t have the money, don’t have a job to pay for their drugs, so they’re going out here in the county and stealing to take care of their addictions. If they don’t have a job and money’s coming in, where’s it coming from?”

All of the officers said that if someone does see unusual activity from a family member as a result of a drug problem, it’s also important to get them somewhere where the person can get some help for that addiction.

“It’s also important for people who see something unusual to call right away,” Roy Leap said. “Sometimes people will call the next day and tell us they saw something, but by that time there’s not much to find. We want to make sure that if they see a suspicious vehicle, give us a call because we want to check out those vehicles immediately.”

“Even somebody walking late at night, and it’s unusual for them to be out, let us know,” Richard Lock said. “You never know. They may need some help. If something doesn’t look right, call us.”

“People also need to get a detailed description of what they are wearing,” James Richards said. “Start at the top. How tall are they? What are they wearing? Are they wearing a ballcap? Get a detailed description of the person and the vehicle.”

“We would much rather check out dozens of leads that just check out to just be something fine than miss one that could actually break these cases open, and that’s what we’re looking for,” Roy Leap said.

The more residents participate in keeping watch over their property and their neighbors, the more leads are there to be followed and the more the investigation can be furthered.

All officers say that people need to call the department when they see something unusual. Residents can call the town police at 427-3737l; the sheriff’s office at 427-363; or there is a new anonymous tip line at 427-4427. If something is going on at that moment, everyone should call 911.

“People need to be aware that the tip line is a recorded message,” Roy Leap said. “If it’s something that’s happening and you’re seeing it, they need to call 911 or the department so we can respond immediately. We need everyone’s help if we’re going to solve these break-ins, and we appreciate the public’s help.”