Crime Watch 8

Thief enters car at Carmel park, takes camera equipment worth $7,000

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — Two cars were broken into in broad daylight Sunday in the middle of a busy parking lot at Central Park.

The parking lot was packed with families enjoying a nice fall day, and the victims’ cars were locked. But, that didn’t stop the thief from getting away with thousands of dollars in stolen items.

Jennifer Clark-Chester, a photographer, was taking a family’s photos in Central Park, 1235 Central Park Drive East. That’s off Westfield Boulevard between 111th and 116th streets.

After a 90-minute session, she went back to her car and popped the trunk, only to hear a police officer yell from across the parking lot not to touch her car; it had been broken into.

“Locked, tinted windows, and a tinted baby screen, and they still smashed it in,” Clark-Chester said.

The thief had also broken into another couple’s car. They’d called police before Clark-Chester had even realized what had happened.

After smashing in her rear passenger window, the thief made off with more than $7,000 in camera equipment and a bag of personal items that included Clark-Chester’s wallet with her ID and credit cards.

“It is almost like they were watching me or something and knew that I put that bag behind the seat where you are supposed to,” Clark-Chester said. “In the very, very back was the camera, and it was covered with a blanket.”

Signs fill the parking lot where the break-ins happened. The signs warn people to secure their valuables, lock their cars, and take their keys to keep from becoming a theft victim. Clark-Chester says she did all of those things and, for her, it wasn’t enough.

The parking lot has video surveillance but it’s unclear if Sunday’s break-ins were caught on tape.

“You leave valuables in plain view, that is really tempting for somebody who is looking to steal from a car. If they see something in plain view, it doesn’t take very long for them smash a window out, grab it and be gone,” said Lt. Tim Byrne with Carmel Police Department.

Byrne says smash-and-grabs are more common during the daytime. At night, some thieves take a different approach.

“People will just walk neighborhoods and check on doors and, if a door is unlocked, they will get into the car and see what … may be of value and they will take it and move on,” Byrne said.

Carmel Police Department doesn’t track car break-ins. They get lumped into the theft category, so Byrne couldn’t give an exact number as to how many break-ins have been reported recently.

“It seems as though, in our daily reporting that we do see, we are seeing a little bit of an increase in thefts from vehicles specifically,” Byrne said.

To try to keep from being a victim to a car break-in, police recommend leaving valuables at home, if possible, and to stow away valuables or bags and do it before getting to a destination in case someone is watching. Plus, always make lock the car doors.