A trail of broken glass.
The door to a detached garage kicked in.
A house ransacked.
Officer Tim Clark sees it every day. Numbers from the Indianapolis Metro Police Department show nearly one in every 62 Indianapolis residents was the victim of a burglary last year.
“It's...it's tragic,” Clark said.
Ofc. Clark is an IMPD evidence technician. Last year, he and other IMPD officers responded to 13,380 burglaries, according to numbers the department supplied to the FBI. That is roughly 36 burglaries every day in 2013. It also brings the number back down to about 2007 levels after several years of increasing burglaries. At the same time, Indianapolis is experiencing an increase in population and an increase in violent crime.
This year, officers hope the number of burglaries will drop even lower. Newly released information from IMPD shows burglaries were down 19 percent in the first quarter of 2014, compared with the first quarter of 2013. Officers responded to 2,329 burglaries in January, February and March of this year and 2,859 in the same months last year.
IMPD officers suspect at least some of that drop can be attributed to the brutally cold weather in those months, so they will be looking closely at the soon-to-be-released third quarter numbers, hoping to see a similar drop in burglaries.
Clark dusts for prints on recovered stolen vehicles, documents injuries on domestic violence victims and takes pictures of anything that could be evidence. But the majority of his time is spent outside and inside homes that have been turned upside down.
And owners like Russ Sloan, are turned into victims.
“My actual entry door was wide open,” said Sloan, “That's when I saw the glass out back--that's when I thought, 'ok, I've been hit!'”
Thieves burglarized his east side home near 21st and Shadeland while he was at a friend's house. They broke a rear window and made a mess, taking whatever they could.
“The usual suspects: the tv, electronic stuff that's worth a little more money so...my laptop, my keyboard.”
The same thing happened to Robin Holloway's parents' near-north side house close to 30th and College. Her mother is in a nursing home; her father in the hospital.
“It's somebody that knew they wasn't here. They're watching me as I come and go basically,” Holloway said.
They used a crow bar to break a back window, then opened a door.
“It's a hurtful thing. It hurts. It hurts,” said Holloway, “To go now to tell my mother that her house has been broken in and some of her stuff is gone...it's not a good feeling.”
And at a home on the south side near Sherman and Hanna, burglars stole two boat motors from a detached garage.
“Probably about $1,200-$1,500 for both,” said Hines of the motors. While that's a lot, it's not enough to file an insurance claim, he said.
While Ofc. Clark dusts for prints and takes pictures, the damage is done. Most items are gone forever so prevention is the key.
“When you're leaving in the morning, look around. Look, listen. Is there a suspicious car? Is there a suspicious subject? If so, call us,” said Clark.
Burglars are also looking for cover, and an easy entry and exit point.
“Deter criminals by lighting, cutting back trees and getting a security system,” Clark explained.
Even inside your home, keep valuables out of sight.
“To leave things open and in plain view are inviting thieves and burglars to your residence,” he said.
It's also important to take pictures of important keepsakes and record serial numbers just in case you become a victim.
“The majority of the burglaries that I go on, they're looking for electronics: TV's, cameras, DVDs and jewelry. Small items that they can carry,” Clark said.
Russ Sloan will have to replace what was taken and clean up the mess left behind.
“Kind of makes me realize material things really aren't that important. I mean...it could have been a lot worse.”