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Police investigate Linebacker larcenies

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, October 4, 2007

More than a dozen car break-ins have occurred in the parking lot adjacent to the Linebacker Lounge since April – and five of them have happened since late August, police said Wednesday.

Four break-ins were reported over a three-day stretch in September, said Capt. Phil Trent, the spokesman for the South Bend Police Department. One car was broken into on Sept. 22, two were broken into on Sept. 23 and another on Sept. 24.

In the past 12 months, Trent said, 19 larcenies have been reported involving vehicles outside the Linebacker, located at 1631 South Bend Ave. Twelve of the larcenies involved women’s purses being stolen from the car, Trent said.

“Somebody’s there looking in cars, and when they see a purse exposed, they break into the car,” Trent said.

Laptop computers, cell phones, cash and a piece of luggage have also been taken during the break-ins.

In addition, Trent said, seven larcenies have been reported inside the bar in the last year. The police reports indicate the stolen items were purses, wallets and items within purses.

Trent said the break-ins have been through a smashed-in window. In most cases, Trent said, visible items of value, like a purse or a piece of luggage, attracted the thief.

“If you are going to park your car in a parking lot at night, or overnight, make sure you put your valuables in the trunk,” Trent said.

Saint Mary’s senior Jeney Anderson found her car broken into early on May 12 in a parking lot next to the Linebacker.

Anderson said she arrived at the bar between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. and returned outside to the parking lot at approximately 2:30 a.m.

“We all walked back over to our cars, and I was getting in my car when one of my friends said ‘Jeney, is your car window always like that?'” said Anderson, who was the designated driver that night.

The small window on the rear passenger’s side had been “completely shattered” and the doors were unlocked, Anderson said.

Her friend’s purse, which had been lying on the back seat, was gone. Anderson’s purse, which she had hidden under the front passenger seat, was also missing.

Neither of the purses taken from Anderson’s car have been found. Anderson’s purse contained money, debit cards, gift cards and a rosary her roommate gave her from Rome.

Her friend’s purse contained a digital camera and credit cards. Anderson said someone attempted to use her friend’s stolen credit cards, but not any of her debit cards.

Most of the larcenies at the Linebacker seem to happen on the weekends when the parking lot is full, Trent said. With two exceptions, all of the larcenies reported in 2007 occurred on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. South Bend Police have “stepped up patrols” around the parking lot, Trent said.

Police have made no arrests, but Trent said it was reasonable to believe it was the same person or people committing the crimes, especially during the larcenies of Sept. 22-24.

He said police have “people of interest” that they are investigating.

“We’ve got suspects that routinely, we catch, we put them in jail, and they go right back to doing those larcenies,” he said.

The police have not contacted the owners of the Backer about the larcenies in the parking lot, Trent said.

“We wouldn’t contact the owner because someone had a loss in the parking lot,” he said.

The owner of the Linebacker did not reply to requests for comment.

Trent said the number of larcenies to cars in the parking lot near the Linebacker is not unusual.

“Over the last couple of weeks, it’s a pretty large influx of calls there, but 19 – that averages to about 1.5 larcenies per month,” he said. “That’s not totally out of range.”