Pennsylvania Amish Stores Targeted In Burglary Spree

The past several weeks have seen a rash of burglaries targeting Amish stores, as well as non-Amish churches in western Pennsylvania. This is one in Mercer County, one of the “Amish supercounties“, having a half-dozen separate settlements. The community is apparently the one at Jackson Center, a settlement of about 800 Amish people.

The Sharon Herald reports on what has been going on:

From mid-May through Memorial Day weekend, seven churches and businesses in rural Mercer County have been the scenes of burglaries, or attempted burglaries.

“These appear to be related,” Trooper Bertha Cazy of the Butler barracks said Thursday. “I am aware there are seven related to churches and Amish stores.”

The Amish businesses burglars struck include Ben’s Engine Repair, where he/she/they made off with $300. One of the stores where they tried, and failed, was Byler’s Discount Groceries.

Owner Billy Byler (first time I’ve heard the name “Billy” used for an Amish person) said “Whoever it was ripped off the door handle…But they weren’t able to get inside.” They also stole a battery from the home of an elderly man.

Amish buggies in one of the six Mercer County communities

Burglars apparently think their Amish victims are easy pickings, and having succeeded at this multiple times in a short span, I can understand why.

Several weeks ago, Joe Donnermeyer wrote in Crime Experiences of the Amish that burglary was the most frequently reported crime in the study he conducted for his recent JPAC article on the topic. An example he cited from Tennessee “suggests that the burglars were aware of the times when the Amish would be away from their dwellings for the visitation.”

This I’m afraid is typical. They know when Amish are out at church or away for other events. This suggests it is someone familiar with the Amish in the area. In all likelihood the perpetrator(s) are local people.

For one, many (most?) criminals are lazy, and want results fast – especially if they’re preoccupied with getting their next fix asap (sadly these crimes are often drug-driven). They’re not driving halfway across the state to target an Amish community hours away. They’re preying on people in their own backyard.

This was exactly the case in another recent incident in Ohio, where the alleged perpetrator of a drive-by robbery of a young Amish person lived just miles away.

That’s why I’m confident this person or people will be caught sooner or later. I believe the body to contact is PA State Police Troop D (724-284-8100).

One last thought: Is burglary the most commonly reported crime against Amish, as Joe noted, since it takes the least courage to commit? If you’re reasonably sure of when someone is going to be gone, you can do multiple burglaries (like in this case) with no friction. It’s different from having to actually approach a victim on the road or when they’re home.

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