Thieves targeting homes under construction

Thieves are stealing from homes under construction in Johnson County.

Police are warning about bold burglars hitting neighborhoods - criminals who are so good at fooling people, you might not even call police if you see them around your home.

In new neighborhoods, there's a new wave of crime. The challenge in these cases, the burglars are blending right in.

"There are so many vehicles coming and going that it's tough to know who belongs and who doesn't," said Ray Gonzales, Greenwood.

"It's kind-of impossible to know who's supposed to be here and who's not. I mean nothing is marked," added Ray's neighbor, Victoria Katona.

With garage doors open and locks still uninstalled, new home construction sites are like a welcome mat for thieves.

"They go in and just start gutting the place," said Greenwood Assistant Police Chief Matt Fillenwarth.

In Greenwood and Whiteland, a recent spike in new home sales has led to a spike in burglaries, too - about a half dozen in the past few weeks. Thousands of dollars in materials, furnaces and fixtures have been stolen from several new neighborhoods.

"The thieves, a lot of times, will see that a contractor's in installing a new furnace, bathroom fixtures, kitchen fixtures, air conditioning units," Fillenwarth explained.

Two of the thefts happened near Gonzales' home. He and his neighbors stay aware, but he didn't know about crimes right down the road.

"We like to think it's our little piece of paradise, so when we've got people coming in and affecting other people's homes, of course it affects us and bothers us a lot," Gonzales said.

What makes these criminals so tough to spot, is that in any other neighborhood, a white van and a guy carrying tools might seem strange, but in a neighborhood under construction, they're very common and neighbors never know if it's a work crew or a crook.

"There's people taking tools or, you know, going back and forth and people don't think anything of it," Fillenwarth said.

With construction thefts, the contractor takes the financial hit. But eventually, police say we all will, not just as potential targets, but also with higher construction costs because of the crimes.