Rural residents, especially those whose homes are the most isolated, can be prime targets for thieves.
An 85-year-old retired farmer living alone in rural Sullivan County was killed last weekend when he surprised an intruder in his home late Friday night or early Saturday morning. Electronics and other items were taken from the home, but according to Sgt. Joe Watts of the Indiana State Police Post in Putnamville, no tools or equipment were missing from the barns.
“How he came into contact with the intruder is unclear,” Watts said, explaining the fully clothed body of Lowell Badger was found by his son near a doorway between the man’s bedroom and living room. He said it’s also unknown how many intruders there were.
There are a few precautions rural residents can take to help prevent incidents such as the one at Badger’s.
“Home alarms are a good idea,” Watts said, adding that many will send a signal to the police when doors or windows are forced, and some have a personal panic button that can be carried on your person.
“If you live in a rural area, make sure to keep your residence locked at all times,” he continued. “Make sure if someone knocks on your door, you don’t let them in. Tell them you’ll call someone for them, and keep them outside.”
If anything seems unusual and you’re uncomfortable, call the police. Watts also recommends calling a relative and telling them, “hey, there’s a stranger at my door and I just called the police,” so someone else is aware of the situation. He cautions homeowners to be sure anyone who comes to the door can’t push their way in, and to remain inside the home if at all possible.
Daviess County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Gary Allison said even if it means shouting at the person through a closed door, the safe thing to do is to keep the door closed and locked. He suggested telling the person at the door that you’ve called law enforcement and to wait outside.
“If you have elderly family members, check on them,” Watts continued.
“If you see suspicious activity or a suspicious vehicle at any time, we’ll check on it.”
Writing down a license plate number, vehicle description or an individual’s description can help law enforcement officers with the checks, and also help them track down criminals if a crime has occurred, he said.
“Don’t confront them,” Watts cautioned. “We prefer you call local law enforcement and let us check it out. That’s our job.”
Allison agreed with Watts’ tips.
“Call us and we’ll get there as soon as we can,” he emphasized.
According to Allison, home invasion is a year-round problem and happens “24-7.” He did not believe there had been a recent increase locally.
In the Sullivan County case, Badger’s son found him deceased Saturday morning during a routine visit. There were visible signs of trauma, according to the state police, and Sullivan County Coroner Jeff Griffith released the manner of death as homicide and cause of death as a gunshot wound.
Police currently are conducting interviews, and they’re receiving leads, but no arrests have been made. They’re asking anyone who has knowledge of a friend, relative, acquaintance or pawn shop that recently obtained a black Sony Bravia, 46-inch, LCD television in a suspicious or questionable manner to contact ISP First Sergeant Jeff Hearon or Detective Tom Hanks at the Indiana State Police Putnamville Post 765-653-4114. Tips can remain anonymous.
“Monetary donations from the Sullivan County community and local businesses have been exceptional,” Watts said. “Through the donations and the combined effort of 1st Financial, Sullivan County Credit Union, Indiana Farm Bureau and Wabash Valley Crime Stoppers, the reward amount as of now is $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those person(s) responsible for the death of Lowell Badger.”
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