Larcenies plague Ontwa policePublished 10:08pm Monday, June 18, 2012
EDWARDSBURG — A larceny wave, including draining gasoline from parked vehicles, continues to stymie Ontwa Township-Edwardsburg Police Department.
Some village residents still leave their vehicles unlocked, figuring if there is nothing of value in view, they will be spared.
“We were having five to six (reports) a night (in early June),” Chief Kenneth Wray said Monday. “I’ve had three cars out at night, which is hard to do. They’re hitting us pretty good, unfortunately.”
Police developed one vehicle lead. Patterns evident on computerized crime maps suggest two groups are at work, Wray said.
“I think one is doing the larcenies, and the other doing the gas,” said Wray, explaining police are puzzled how they have been able to remove as much as 50 gallons from a freshly fueled pickup by drilling the tank underneath.
“I don’t know how many purses have been left in cars,” Wray said.
Laptops have been stolen, too.
“Take your purse and anything of value out of your car. (Sunday) night we had one purse taken, but that was the only one all weekend,” he said.
Larcenies from gas tanks cluster south of May Street, particularly around Garver Lake. Targets are usually pickups or sport utility vehicles because they’re tall and easy to slip under.
Wray suggests parking in a well-lit location. Those that have been hit were parked on dark, longer driveways not visible from the road.
“One truck had 50 gallons in it. He just filled it up,” Wray said. “How do you capture 50 gallons? What are you going to put it in? How do you carry it? It’s heavy. The most oddball one was a stolen horse, but it got away apparently and came back. Then they stole a four-wheeler and tack, which is not something you can get rid of easily. Horse people all know each other’s stuff. We’ve had two or three four-wheelers stolen.”
The thieves have steered clear of residential break-ins.
“I haven’t had a house break-in,” said Wray, explaining GPS devices are popular among thieves.
“People stick them in the window, leave them on and they can see the glow. We can’t seem to catch up with them,” he said.
Incidents seem to occur on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, mostly in the evening, Wray said.
Wray said there are marine gas containers with wheels and a handle which lend themselves to sliding beneath a vehicle.
“They never spill any. It’s not like there’s gas running on the ground after they steal it. St. Joseph County (Ind.) has had three, including one the other night. Cass County had cars broken into in Mason Township.”
Anyone who sees anything suspicious activity is asked to report it immediately — not wait until the next day.