Whiteland thieves get away with coroner's badge, gun, other items

WHITELAND, Ind. - A crime spree early Monday morning targeted six to seven houses in Whiteland, Ind., including property belonging to a county official. Now, there’s concern about what was stolen that could be used to commit more crimes.

Along a rural road in Whiteland, cars and garages were broken into in the early morning hours of Monday. From electronics to an all-terrain vehicle, several items were stolen.

"It's secluded, so you wouldn't think anyone would take a chance of coming back here," Johnson County Coroner and victim Craig Lutz said. "The first thing I noticed was that my radio was sitting right here and it was gone."

Lutz uses his personal vehicle in his job as coroner, and many of the tools he uses to do that job were stolen. A personal computer containing death investigation files, a handgun and his county coroner’s badge numbered among items taken.

“If you (weren’t) looking, it would look like a sheriff's department badge,” Lutz said. He’s fearful the criminals could use the badge to commit other acts.

He’s fearful that someone might try to impersonate him, and for good reason. Last month, a man was arrested for impersonating a metro police officer -- from the uniform, to the type of car he was driving.

"Officer Mike Hewitt/IMPD. “They found more weapons and a variety of police equipment and uniforms from six different agencies," IMPD officer Mike Hewitt said about last month’s impersonator, Minh Nguyen.

And while the crime against Lutz doesn’t rise to that level, someone out there has a badge -- and a gun. The crime happened at night, but investigators are hoping nearby homes or businesses may have surveillance cameras that captured the crime spree.

Lutz says items stolen from his SUV totaled nearly $3,500. Plus, the thieves got away with that badge and gun, which could be used to do something far worse. He did say, however, his computer files were encrypted and contained information only about current cases.

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