Hillsdale County res­i­dents are shocked by the number of bur­glaries in Amish and non-Amish com­mu­nities.
Photo: Wiki­media

An unusual number of bur­glaries have taken place in southern Hillsdale County and sur­rounding areas over the past two or three months, areas largely pop­u­lated by the Amish com­munity.

“It might have hap­pened once, but not like this,” said Hillsdale County res­ident Esther Lengacher. “It’s just going on and on.”

Several res­i­dents in Hillsdale County, Branch County and Steuben County, Indiana, have been reporting bur­glaries in their areas. Hillsdale County Sheriff Timothy Parker said four of the sus­pects in those areas have been arrested, and that the bur­glaries are not all con­nected.

“There are kind of inde­pendent oper­ators stealing from Amish and non-Amish,” he said.

The main things being stolen, according to several Amish Hillsdale County res­i­dents, are guns, chainsaws, and money. At dif­ferent homes the sus­pects have stolen between $300 and $1000, and have also taken checks that were pre­vi­ously written and signed, according to Hillsdale County res­ident Miss Dela­grange, who requested that her first name be left anonymous.

Hillsdale County res­ident John Graber said both law enforcement as well as his non-Amish neighbors have been assisting in trying to catch the sus­pects.

“The sheriff’s department and state police have been taking active roles in inves­ti­gating and sur­veil­lance in the southwest part of the county con­cerning recent bur­glaries,” Parker said.

The first bur­glary occurred on a Sunday a little over two months ago, according to Graber. The sus­pects broke in after the family had left for church, stealing around $300, guns, two chain saws, and a crossbow.

“The door knob, seal, and jam were all broken…every cabinet and closet were broken into, it appears,” he said.

Parker said he had not heard any reports of internal home damage along with the bur­glaries. However, Dela­grange said that at one house in Reading, Michigan where a checkbook was stolen, it appeared that the sus­pects had been hitting doors and walls with wood in an attempt to fend off the res­i­dents’ dog.

A few res­i­dents said there have been several instances of sus­pi­cious activity, where a stranger has come up to the house and asked to buy firewood or eggs and then leaves. Dela­grange said a visitor even came once on Sunday, when Amish res­i­dents do not nor­mally do business.

Parker said that after looking back on the past 30 years, the recent events do not seem unusual.

“We have seem crime sprees come and go,” he said. “That’s the nature of the business. It’s just this tragic sit­u­ation where we’ve got people stealing from others, and we’ll work dili­gently at the sit­u­ation until we can find them and put them behind bars.”

Dela­grange said res­i­dents in her area are “shocked” by the sit­u­ation, and Parker said it is unusual for Amish res­i­dents to report bur­glaries to law enforcement as they have been recently.

Despite the unset­tling nature of the sit­u­ation, Graber said his com­munity prays for the gov­ernment and wants to forgive those who have harmed them.

“We believe the gov­ernment is here to punish evil and protect the good,” he said. “We believe in loving our enemies as much as pos­sible, and we hope they will repent from being thieves.”