Thinking About Stealing From The Amish? Think Twice

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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    18 Comments

    1. Kody B. Gaugler

      Vigilance

      If there’s no neighbors or locals willing to help out their local Amish communities that’s a huge disappointment and they need to step up to deal with the coward bullies properly.

    2. Anthony Shope

      Trail cameras

      Most of the Amish I know utilize trail cameras for hunting and some use them to monitor their property.

      1. Cameras for monitoring

        Good example, that was the type of tech I was alluding to in the post. I linked it to a related article, but I think I’ll just spell it out in the text.

    3. Connie Moore

      Theft from Amish

      O lived near the Mercer County PA Amish 65 years. I have several as friends. It hurts my heart that these young men invaded these gentle, kind people’s homes and properties.

    4. TODAY

      WE ARE LIVING IN A WORLD THAT IS DIFFERENT THAN WE BABY BOOMERS’ HAVE KNOWN

      FOR ME IT HAS BEEN DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND THE SELFISHNESS AND BIGOTRIES’ THAT ARE SO OBVIOUS TODAY THE LACK OF CARE AND CONCERN FOR OTHERS
      SUNDAY I SEEMED TO STAY IN WORSHIP ALL DAY, THE CHURCH I ATTEND IS AN ABOVE GROUND PROPERTY THAT SITS OVER PART OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT WAS HALLOWED GROUND. TODAY I’M REMINDED THAT BOTH HEAVEN AND EARTH BELONG TO OUR GOD AND IS INDEED HALLOWED GROUND. WE CHRISTIAN’S
      MUST STAY IN FERVENT PRAYER FOR EVERYONE WE KNOW AND THE WORLD FOR GOD TO HAVE HIS WAY. BEING GRATEFUL AND TRUSTING THAT HE IS IN CONTROL

    5. Ingrid Milller

      Foolish

      Don’t even consider it where I live. Everyone looks out for each other and if a dog doesn’t get you, a non Amish neighbor, or camera will. You will be caught eventually.

    6. Neighborhood Watch

      Yes, the Amish have neighborhood watch without calling meetings or erecting NW warning signs. I’m also surprised that these burglars got way with crime for such a long period of time.
      As we know, catching people is one thing, convicting them is another thing. I’ll bet that with so much stolen property recovered and with a handful of people involved, that there will never be a trial. Suspects will talk. Usually these things are plea bargained out.
      However, I’m always interested if the Amish will cooperate beyond reporting. What are the odds of any Amish helping convict the accused if subpoenaed to testify as to the stolen property belonging to them? About zero?

    7. Mary Harrison

      Thinking about stealing from the Amish?

      Happened here to a small Amish community. By small, 17 homes. Thief had schedules down pat. No one locked their doors. He hit on Sunday mornings while they were at church. He would disguise himself by using duct tape to cover any exposed skin. All that could be seen was his eyeballs. It took almost a year before police caught up with him. He’s been sitting in jail for 6 mos.

    8. Duct Tape Burglar

      I’m laughing at the “Duct Tape Burglar” mentioned in the above post. Here’s a wild guess how he was discovered, he was the only guy in the community with long stripes of red rashes on his face!

      1. Removal sounds pretty painful. I wonder how he would do if he applied similar creativity and determination to legal pursuits.

    9. Joe Donnermeyer

      When bad things happen to good people

      When bad things happen to good people is the title of a book from the early 1980s by Harold S. Kushner. So, it is not surprising that the Amish are occasionally the victims of crime, as are other good rural people, good suburban people, and good city people. However, the world is not coming to an end and according to FBI statistics, crime rates are much lower today than they were 50 years ago. What is more frequent today is media reporting of crime, which in itself raises apprehension and fear. It is guaranteed that if the Amish are victims of crime, it will make the news. But, no need for alarm.

    10. Kensi

      take some precautions

      Might help if they don’t announce to strangers that they keep their doors unlocked and then show her where all the guns are kept, like the Amish did when I stayed in their airbnb. Not everyone is going to be me and one day they’re going to tell the wrong person.

    11. Doc

      We need more Amish...

      I grew up in Michigan. There were many Amish communities. We respected such.

      I now live in the Ozarks. Missouri has many Amish communities. I’m not aware that Oklahoma has any. Arkansas has a few.

      I fear for the Amish in Arkansas. When folks in Arkansas get behind the wheel of a car, even the kindly old church lady, they are transported to Hazzard County, they become members of the Duke clan, and they drive the General Lee. Such is not compatible with horse drawn buggies.

      General rural crime abounds on the mountain. Drugs and tweekers predominate. Such is the decay of America.

      I rely on perimeter intrusion sensors, cameras, lighting, and GSD’s for security. All traffic on the road is recorded, including driver images and license plates.

      Such is the current state of America…!

    12. Mary M

      Stealing from the Amsih

      It’s a sad state of affairs and a testimony to the depravity of man when children at such a young age steal anything from anyone, Amish or non Amish. There will always be those who have zero respect for human life and proerty. I always think of the Nickel Mines school shootings when I read articles like this. It is devastating to say the least when something of this magnitude hits any area or walk of life. Having lived with the Amish, I recall our roadside stand and the unlocked money box where an unspoken honour system was applied. Often the money WAS stolen and once by a desperate couple who, at gunpoint forced the youngest daughter to hand over the cash. After that there were two of us manning the stand. I recall Papa John telling us to pray for that couple and ask God to forgive them but also thank God for the fact that no one was hurt and the young girl did the right thing to hand over the money. Thankfully it never happened again and we were the wiser for the experience.

    13. Marcus Yoder

      Stealing

      My dad grew up Amish, and was married in the Amish church. He left the Amish soon after getting married. He had a problem with young Amish boys stealing gas. He would call the Sheriff and the boys would come and beg dad to not to press charges. Finally the Sheriff said they wont come out unless he pressed charges. The boys ended up in jail. But dad went to visit them in jail, and that ended the gas stealing. Years later I was at a frolic, and one of the guys was there. We had bean soup for lunch , and he said when he was in jail they had bean soup, and others in the jail didn’t care for bean soup, so he plenty eat. Well the lady who we were doing the frolic for was quite shocked that he been in jail, and wanted to know what for. He said stealing gas, and pointed at me and said his dad is the one who put me in jail. Everybody got a chuckle out of it
      Marcus Yoder

      1. Great story! Do you think they targeted your father knowing he was of the same background and maybe more apt to handle things directly with the church? Or perhaps they viewed him differently since he had left? It sounds like things ended up positively for at least one of them, I can imagine the lady’s surprise.

        1. Marcus Yoder

          Stealing

          I don’t think they targeted dad. I am sure they stole from others as well. I remember my dad being a conservative Minister, being ask sometimes to help with same situations with other boys. This person is very upstanding person in the community.
          Marcus Yoder

    14. Stealing

      One of the worst kind of people are those who steal from Amish and Englishers. I had experience thief too and it is hurtful.
      God says “Vengeance is mine in the end”
      And that makes me feel better. Says God will forgive but i believe God will punish those of wrong doing because God certainly understands because God doesn’t forgive Satin he going to chain him up forever in the bottomless pit and those will be thrown in the lake of fire.
      Glad they got caught and eventually the thieves do. They are the ones that don’t believe in God.