Family pleads for return of family photos on stolen laptop

An Indiana family is offering a reward for the return of a laptop containing years of family photos, stolen outside the outlet mall.

Naomi Davis of Ridgeville, near Muncie, pleaded for the return of the laptop, which was removed from her vehicle between 1:30 and 3 p.m. Sunday while in the Montana Mike’s restaurant parking lot near Edinburgh Premium Outlets.

The 15.6-inch HP laptop contained four years of family photos from birthdays, weddings, holidays and other family events, and its loss has been devastating to the family, she said.

“I’m asking whoever did this to have a heart,” Davis said. “My daughter’s wedding photos are on there. I don’t know how to replace them.”

The family is offering a $100 reward — which is the amount that most 4-year-old laptops are selling for on resale sites — no questions asked for the return of the laptop with the photos intact. Anyone with information about the laptop is asked to call the Davis family at 765-546-1962.

Sunday’s incident is the second time the Davis family’s vehicle has been broken into while parked at Montana Mike’s, Davis said.

Seven weeks earlier on Sept. 3, someone broke into the passenger door lock assembly between 2:30 and 4 p.m. and removed a GPS unit from the center console, Davis said.

In Sunday’s incident, the thief did the same thing, but this time broke a set of headphones plugged into the center console.

Once inside the vehicle, the thief popped the back latch and took about $200 in merchandise the family had purchased at the outlet mall, as well as the laptop, which was wedged behind a cooler against the back seat of the vehicle.

The thief did not take either of two Coleman coolers in the back or the luggage that was there, Davis said.

The family has filed reports with the Edinburgh Police Department on the incidents and have since learned that Montana Mike’s does not have video surveillance for all areas of the parking lot, Davis said. She suspects that someone is watching the parking lot, looking for vehicles to break into.

Derek Thompson, general manager at Montana Mike’s, said there have been incidents of items being stolen out of vehicles — not only at the restaurant, but at the outlet mall as well.

“It goes in waves,” he said.

Because the outlet mall and restaurant are located so close to the interstate, the outlet’s parking lots and restaurant lots are targeted because the interstate provides a quick way to get away, he said.

Thompson said he is willing to help the Davis family by offering to be a location where the laptop can be returned and holding it for the family until they can retrieve it, he said.

“I feel really bad for them,” he said of the loss of the photos. “I wish we could do something to help her.”

Edinburgh Police Chief David Mann said vehicle break-ins tend to occur during peak shopping times of the year, such as during the holidays. People who break into cars usually break into more than one, he said.

Mann said the incidence of vehicle break-ins at the mall isn’t any higher now than usual.

The method the thief used to get into the Davis vehicle — prying open the door lock assembly — is not commonly used anymore, because on newer vehicles it would set off a car alarm, Mann said. It’s far more common these days for thieves to break car windows and reach in to grab bags of purchases.

Mann said it’s unlikely that the stolen laptop is still in the Edinburgh area.

“There are some of these (laptops) that are recovered, but far more remain stolen rather than being recovered,” he said.

How to help

Anyone with information about a 15.6-inch HP laptop stolen from a vehicle outside the Edinburgh Premium Outlets is asked to call Naomi Davis at 765-546-1962.

Tips to prevent thefts from your car

Never leave your car running with the keys in the ignition, even if you are just away from the vehicle for a moment.

Roll up the windows and lock the vehicle every time you leave it.

Don’t leave valuables in plain view even if the car is locked.

Remove portable electronic devices from the vehicle when it is parked — that includes phones, laptops, GPS navigation units — and don’t leave the suction cup that holds the navigation unit on the dash — it’s a tipoff a GPS unit is in the car.

Park in busy, well-lighted areas and look for parking areas that have video surveillance.

Do not move valuable items to the trunk of your car while in public view. Thieves could be watching and break a window to gain access to the items in the trunk.

Source: Republic archives

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.