Property crime rising in South Bend

NOW: Property crime rising in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Property crime is on the rise in South Bend according to the South Bend Police Department.

Property crime includes offenses like burglary, larceny-theft, and vehicle-theft. According to the FBI, the purpose of property crime is to take money or property, but there is no force or threat of force against the victims.

South Bend police said they’re seeing more crimes like car break-ins and burglaries than in past years.

The number of residential burglaries grew from 2014 to 2017. According to data from SBPD’s transparency hub, in 2014, there were 568 cases. In 2017, the number of cases jumped to 599.

Non-residential burglaries rose too. In 2014, SBPD investigated 178 cases compared to 269 cases investigated in 2017.

Larceny cases also increased. In 2014, there were 2,010 cases. SBPD investigated 2,287 larceny cases in 2017.

Police call these crimes of opportunity. The crimes are committed with little planning and often happen in 30 seconds or less. Ken Garcia, a spokesperson for SBPD, said a would be criminal sees an opportunity, like a purse in an unlocked car, and decides to seize the moment and take it.

"They're looking to make some quick cash, so that's what this is,” said Garcia. “They're walking by and they look down and see your purse sitting in the backseat, they go and grab the door, it's unlocked, guess what, your purse is now gone."

South Bend Common Councilman Jake Teshka said he’s received many complaints about property crime from people living in Twyckenham Hills and Erskin Manor.

Tuesday night, Teshka is holding a meeting alongside South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski about the concerns. Teshka said residents can meet with police to discuss preventative measures and solutions.

“This is a great opportunity to for those residents to ask questions and to see what they can do to help make their community safer,” said Teshka.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. It’s being held at Living Stones Church.

Tami Thompson has lived in Twyckenham Hills for four years. Since then, her car has been broken into three times. She says thieves stole a purse, boots, and spare change during those incidents. She’s supportive of the meeting.

"The cars are never locked cause I'd rather they just open the car door than break the window and there's absolutely nothing left in the car,” said Thompson. “Not even spare change. And the other vehicles, always in the garage."

SBPD say these crimes can be prevented. Police say it’s important to lock car doors and keep valuable items out of the car. If you need to keep items in the car, police suggest hiding them in the trunk.

When it comes to homes, police say it’s important to make sure the home looks occupied. Police suggest leaving lights on times, locking doors and windows, installing security systems, or asking neighbors to keep watch when the home is unoccupied. 

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