Car vandalism on the rise in Indianola

by Amanda Hintgen

 Shattered glass and broken bottles describe the scene of a real crime that has been taking place quite frequently in Indianola, even on the Simpson College campus.

“Back in August, early September and even October we had a state of cars getting broke into,” said Sergeant Rob Hawkins of the Indianola Police Department (IPD).

Hawkins describes the car related crimes that have been happening as, “Any vandalism to motor vehicles, anybody breaking into the car for the purpose of taking property or vandalizing the interior of the vehicle.”

The vehicles being targeted have no specific pattern or motive and have been on the street and in parking lots.

“Mainly, windows are getting smashed out and as a result of that then people are able to get into the cars and take really what is visible, typically,” Hawkins said. “Change, money in the counsel, or a backpack, something they can take and go. “

Most car burglaries and vandalism happen during the night or early morning due to decreased visibility.

Last week, the IPD arrested four people for going through cars.

“They were just opening up car doors looking to see if it was unlocked,” Hawkins said. “Honestly, that is the most common way to break into cars. They just keep going door to door, till they find one that is open. If you smash a window out or otherwise force your way into the car it creates a lot of noise, it’s very noticeable, and increases their chance of getting caught.”

To help defend a vehicle against being broken into or being vandalized Hawkins gave three precautions.

  1. “Always keep your doors locked because if you don’t you become an easy target.”
  2. “Park your car in a well-lit area.”
  3. “Check on your vehicle intermittently to make sure that it hasn’t been damaged or broken into because as more time goes by its always harder to even have a shot at catching who broke into it.”

Director of Security Chris Frerichs also advises students to keep any valuables out of sight in the trunk or glove box.

The IPD was able to solve many of the cases in August, September and October.

“A good majority of them were some juveniles that were responsible, but we were able to get some stolen property back,” Hawkins said.

The juvenile suspects that have been found so far have solved approximately 25 cases. They were all charged in juvenile court for car burglary.

“Sometimes we have to basically put it on the back burner for a little bit and focus on the present,” Hawkins said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t try to work on it, but sometimes you have to wait for a break. You have to catch somebody in the act. They go to the well once too often. They keep doing something until they get caught.”

Simpson College has had a “slight increase (of the crime rate) from years past here on campus,” Frerichs said.

Simpson Security is taking steps to help keep Simpson a safe environment.

“(Simpson Security is utilizing) increased patrols, notifications through email and social media to campus, communicating with IPD (and) more IPD patrols,” Frerichs said.

There are some things that students can do to help the IPD if their car has been broken into.

“You want to have your vehicle information handy and try to figure out exactly what has been taken so you can provide us a list,” Hawkins said. “If there are serial numbers like for iPods, computers, mp3 players, whatever, you want to have any serial numbers available so that way we can enter them into our system as stolen. Often times we can catch people, or we have somebody with property that we don’t think they should have, we can run those serial numbers through our system and see if they come up stolen.”

Sophomore Justin Broberg was one of the victims whose was car vandalized.

“My windows were smashed in and there was glass everywhere,” Broberg said. “I was furious that someone would just randomly smash someone’s windows.”

Nothing was stolen out of Broberg’s vehicle.

All break-ins or vandalism should be reported to the IPD by calling 515-961-9400 and Simpson Security by calling 515-961-1711.