Police are asking for the public's help to find a burglar who is targeting apartments. The man broke into the Arbor Lakes apartment complex in Elkhart, but was interrupted before he could finish the job.
The neighbors are the real heroes in this story. If they had not been looking out for one another, police would have no leads in this case. Because of them, police have a rough description of the burglar and an idea of the type of car he was driving.
It was around 12:30 p.m. on January 30 when residents of the Arbor Lakes complex on Stillwater Street heard loud noises coming from one of the apartments in the building.
They knew the person who lived in that apartment was not home and noticed a strange car parked in front of the building that didn't seem to belong there, so they called the police and the community's management office to report it.
"A lot of times, we'll take those reports, and we may not hear anything or have a lot to go on or any leads," said Elkhart County Sheriff Captain Jim Bradberry. "What's really neat about this case is that we have some people--it's perfect--it's an apartment complex. You had neighbors that were watching out for each other, and they actually saw something."
Police say the burglar had forced the door open, gone through jewelry that was in the home and had started gathering electronics by the door when a staff member showed up.
"The worker obviously suspected something was wrong, and they blocked that car in to the parking spot," said Bradberry.
The staff member saw the man as he was leaving the apartment, but before he could call 9-1-1, the man grabbed the staff member's cell phone, ran to his car and managed to drive away.
"The staff member left and followed the suspect vehicle as it left, but we never got much more information than a blue, older car and a box- style looking car," said Bradberry.
According to the police report, the staff member lost the burglar on US 20 headed west. The staff member was unable to provide police with a complete license plate number for the car.
Bradberry said that when people see a suspicious car, it is always good to remember the acronym CYMBAL in terms of recording information about it: Color, Year, Make, Body, and License Plate. Bradberry said to also to try to remember anything distinctive about the car, such as whether it has rust or any distinguishing marks.
For suspicious people, Bradberry said to try to remember things such as race, tattoos and height. He said even something that may seem trivial at the time, such as whether the person's voice was high or low, could be significant.
Police are asking people who were in the area on January 30 to call if they saw a car matching the description, to see if they can tie this incident to any other burglaries.
"Anybody that might have been in the Arbor Lakes apartments that maybe had seen [the car] before this happened--I'm only speculating, but could they have driven around to different areas looking for other items? Or casing out other places or other targets?" asked Bradberry.
The burglar is described as black, appearing to be in his 40s, with salt and pepper hair and a goatee. He was last seen wearing jeans, a denim jacket and a blue stocking cap.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department.