Burglars target jewelry in Johnson County break-ins

A home in the Walnut Woods subdivision was one of the homes recently burglarized.

When Carl Reed and his wife came home Tuesday, they discovered they'd been victims of a crime.

"We saw that the kitchen had been ransacked@and then we walked in here and we saw this door," Reed explained.

Thieves had pried open the home's front door and then made a beeline for the master bedroom and the couple's jewelry. Gone were sentimental items Carl had given his wife over their 24 years of marriage.

He says they meant nothing to the crooks, but money.

"That's the secret right there, the price of gold," Reed said.

It's a troubling trend police have noticed in Johnson County neighborhoods - burglars breaking in during the day, not targeting electronics or TVs, but gold.

Police say there were two break ins in White River Township Tuesday and two more@last week. Sheriff Doug Cox says it's all about getting quick cash and leaving little evidence behind. The stolen jewelry, he says, is usually taken to a cash-for-gold store, where thieves often get money with no questions asked.

"Gold and silver operations that will melt those items down very quickly and don't take much, if any, identification from these individuals very hard for us to track those responsible for these types of crimes," Cox said.

Mihala Jones@is frustrated with how@many of the gold shops currently operate. She@had $20,000 dollars in jewelry stolen. The criminal, since convicted, sold the whole lot to a gold shop for $630.

"I was angry," Jones said. "When you get that much jewelry, and you give only that much money for it, you know it's stolen!"

A new law, just passed in Indiana, hopes to make it tougher on the crooks. Under the legislation, photo IDs will be required for people who come in to sell jewelry at gold shops. Plus, the stores will have to photograph@the items@and keep@them for ten days without melting them down.

Eyewitness News@actually found some gold shops have already made changes to deter criminals from selling stolen jewelry.

"We have the thumbprint, the signature, and the ID required," said Heath Pierle, of Indiana Gold Refinery in Greenwood. "It's because so many people try to sell stolen jewelry."

Soon, all shops will have to do the same thing.

Even though Carl Reed knows his jewelry is gone, he says changing how these businesses operate will make cash for criminals harder to come by.

"Ours - no chance. It's melted down probably as we speak. Cash-for-gold stores should have the same standards as pawn shops. You're not going stop crime, but you have to put the brakes on it as much as you can and you have to give the officers the ability to enforce the law," Reed said.

House Bill 1188