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Teenagers accused of break-ins, vandalism

February 09, 2011
Police in Crawford County have arrested three juveniles and an 18-year-old in connection with a series of break-ins and vandalism at multiple locations in the county.

The crime spree, which took place during several hours on the night of Jan. 29 and early morning hours of Jan. 30, began in Milltown with a break-in at Maxine's Market. The teens tried to enter the store but failed in their efforts, then came back and tried again.

"I got a call about 3 a.m. Sunday," said Milltown Police Chief Ray Saylor. "Myself and two county officers responded to Maxine's Market in Milltown and found that the front door had been damaged, but there wasn't any entry made into the store and nothing was missing."

About two hours later, Saylor and the county officers, Glen Crawford and Mike Andry, were again summoned to Maxine's and found that a break-in had occurred.

"We found out later that the suspects actually went back to the store three times," said Lt. Debra Young of the Crawford County Sheriff's Department. "On the third try, they got in. They took several cartons of cigarettes and painted graffiti on the building."

After an investigation, the officers left Maxine's but were contacted again about 8 a.m. concerning a break-in at T-Mart along S.R. 66 south of Marengo. The officers believed the two incidents may be related.

When officers arrived, they found the front door at T-Mart had been damaged and that entry had been made into the store. They determined that candy, soft drinks, chips and a cash register had been taken. T-Mart had a security camera in operation at the time.

"When we looked at the video, we discovered that they left then came back for the cash register," Young said. "It had very little cash in it — a few coins and a few dollars in an envelope under the tray — but it wasn't much."

During the break-in at T-Mart, the suspects also spray painted graffiti on the walls of the building.

"I was driving down S.R. 66 and met a car," Young said. "As it went by, I watched the taillights and, for some reason, I felt it was somehow involved. I turned around and headed back and, as I was going by the high school, there were a couple of cars sitting there. There was a group of people standing around the cars and someone was trying to flag me down. When I stopped, they told me that their cars, which had been left in the parking lot, had been spray painted. When I looked around, I discovered that the school building had been spray painted, as well. The graffiti was similar in all three places."

Indiana State Police Dets. Charlie McDaniels and Rick Magill joined with the county and Milltown officers, and Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officers Dennis Talley and Terry Allen began helping in the investigation due to familiarity with some graffiti issues in the county previously.

"This investigation took a lot of work," Young said. "We looked at video from Pilot and other businesses and that took a lot of time. But we used the video from T-Mart and took it to the high school, where the identification of at least one of the suspects was confirmed. We also got a tip that pointed us in the right direction, and we then had a suspect."

After questioning the suspect over the weekend, the officers arrested the person, as well as two more suspects, at the school Monday morning, Jan. 31. A fourth suspect was picked up a few hours later. The 18-year-old was incarcerated at the Crawford County Jail, and the three juveniles were turned over to the probation department.

"The investigation is continuing," Young said. "We believe there may be more arrests. This has been a multi-agency investigation, and everyone worked together well to solve this. And we'll keep looking into it."

"This was a planned event," Saylor added. "They knew what they were doing. There was a lot of damage. Maxine has done so many good things for the people in this community, and T-Mart as well. This kind of thing causes a lot of havoc and is so costly for the victims. It's just so unfair."

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