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Break-ins may be connected with those in two other states

13-year-old girl home during one incident

June 18, 2008
A series of break-ins that may be linked to those in at least two other states have police in Crawford County on their toes after an incident last week.

The incident, one of at least three that have been reported in Crawford County, took place last Tuesday and put a child at risk, which raised the level of urgency for Sheriff Tim Wilkerson's department and put officers more on alert for anything suspicious looking or out of place.

At about 1:30 p.m., Wilkerson and Deputy Debra Young responded to a call on Curby Road. A 13-year-old girl was home alone, reading a book, when she heard someone knock on the front door. She looked out and saw two males, but didn't answer the door. Instead, she got her grandmother on the phone and watched as the males went back to their vehicle that was parked in the driveway. As they put on gloves, she told her grandmother what was she was seeing. The grandmother thought they may be utility workers.

But that idea was discarded quickly when the two men came back to front door and began kicking it in. The girl escaped out the back door and ran to a neighbor's house for help while her grandmother called police. The men quickly ransacked the house and stole several items before leaving. By the time Wilkerson, Young and Indiana State Police officers arrived, the men were gone. Their vehicle is believed to be a green Jeep Cherokee with temporary license plates.

"This is the time of year when school is out and children may be at home while parents work," Wilkerson said. "This child was quick to call someone and retreat unseen. She had a plan. I am very proud of her. She stayed calm, got an adult on the phone and retreated for help. I would encourage all parents to have a plan for their child for fires, medical emergencies and unwanted guests."

In the last few weeks, there have been break-ins where the same mode of operation was used in Missouri and Kentucky.

Sheriff Butch Keprick of the Meade County (Ky.) Sheriff's Department said there have been at least nine incidents in his county in three weeks.

"We've had our share of them," Keprick said. "Usually, they kick in a door, most of the time it's a back door, and they're in and out quickly. It used to be that the targets of most break-ins were stereos, televisions and other electronics, but these people are after money, jewelry and pills. Over $100,000 in cash has been stolen from local homes. They have an idea where most people keep those items, and it doesn't take them long to get them and get out."

The thieves usually strike on Tuesdays and Fridays, Keprick said. And it's usually between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

"We've got some descriptions of vehicles," Keprick, who is a retired Louisville police officer, said. "A postman saw a vehicle, and that was helpful. And we have some people of interest. I'm a proactive kind of a guy. I can't rest until I get this taken care of. I'm going to have a roundtable with the Crawford County sheriff and others to compare information and see if we can help each other. This has to stop."

Wilkerson is quick to point out that the public can also help.

"Neighbors need to look out for each other," Wilkerson said. "And everyone needs to keep their eyes open and call us if anything looks suspicious — even the smallest thing. We need the public's help and will follow up on any information we receive. Security systems help a lot, but if you can't afford one, get motion-sensitive lights. They're inexpensive and easy to install.

"And another problem that we're seeing more of now is gasoline thefts," he added. "Locking gas caps can help and parking your car with the gas input side in view can help, also. Another thing to consider is to buy gas in the morning, on the way to work, not in the evening, on the way home. Gas thieves love to find a full tank at night."

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