Anyone out there planning to burglarize the Amish, take heed (more on that below).

Now, that notice is not meant for the vast majority of people reading this. But why am I writing about this?

Map showing Mercer County, Pennsylvania townships

Well first – what prompted this post. Pennsylvania state police are reporting arrests in a burglary ring which allegedly targeted Amish properties. The ring apparently consisted of five teenagers operating in Mercer County, PA – an area with a sizeable Amish population.

It’s a county with around a half-dozen separate Amish settlements. Likewise the group operated across a swath of the county, in six different townships and one borough. One of the five is technically a teen but legally an adult, and is the only one named in the case. From WFMJ:

State Police have arrested five teenagers they say were part of a burglary ring that committed 21 break-is that netted more than $31,000 in stolen goods and cash from members of Mercer County’s Amish community.

Caden Hinkson, 19, of Fredonia faces 40 criminal counts including burglary, theft, criminal mischief, corruption of minors and possession of criminal tools.

Hinkson was arrested along with two 17-year-old boys from Clarks Mill and Utica, and two 16-year-olds from Fredonia and Mercer.

According to investigators, the suspects planned, scouted, and burglarized targets in Delaware, Fairview, Coolspring, Perry, New Vernon and Sandy Lake Townships, as well as Sandy Lake Borough between September 2021 and November of last year.

Authorities were able to recover most of the stolen goods. However, the burglars also did $26,000 worth of property damage.

Got away with it…for awhile

The group managed to get away with this for quite some time – committing 21 break-ins over a span that lasted longer than a year, from September 2021 to November 2022.

When it comes to streaks of break-ins against the Amish, this is one of the longer runs I am aware of. I am a bit surprised they managed to commit so many break-ins over an extended period of time in a relatively small area. Mercer County is rural, though not the most sparsely-populated (over 100,000 residents).

Amish have had a presence in Mercer County, PA since at least the 1940s. Photo: Rick

Howver, committing double-digit burglaries in the same area where you live is probably not the smartest way to go about it (the accused all live within Mercer County or very close to its borders). But they must have been at least somewhat adept at their crimes if they were able to get away with them for an extended period like this. They averaged about one break-in every three weeks for that period.

Still, in the end they were caught, and now face serious punishment. Among Hinkson’s charges are 17 felony counts.

Think twice before targeting the Amish

99.9% of people reading this would never think of committing such crimes against the Amish.

But on the off-chance that a potential burglar happens upon this page, you should think twice before you do. Why?

Well, some criminals target the Amish like these apparently did, thinking that the Amish will be less likely to report crimes, or perhaps have less secure property. They may have also heard that Amish are a non-resistant people, and cowardly seek to take advantage of that belief as well.

One big minus of targeting the Amish, however, is that there are usually always a lot of eyes around.

Those who go after the Amish are not breaking into vacant apartments or homes where single people live. Amish have large families, and someone is usually at home. Their Amish neighbors, who are likely to be family as well, are watching.

Think the resident family is out at church or some other event? Well, their non-Amish neighbors are watching too. And they’re apt to be keeping an eye out for their Amish neighbors even more vigilantly than they would for fellow non-Amish residents.

They’ll get your plate number or vehicle description. And the Amish may be more eager to get authorities involved than you might think. Some may even be using unexpected technology (like trail cameras or other monitoring devices) to protect their property.

Criminals seeking easy scores by targeting the Amish should take all that into account – and not assume that they will get away clean with their crimes, because time and again they are caught.

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