FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Police are looking for a vehicle possibly involved in eight armed robberies at several apartment complexes.
The suspect vehicle is described as a late 1990's or early 2000's "boxy-style" Jeep Cherokee that is white or light in color.
Anyone who knows of a vehicle that fits this description that might have been involved in the robberies is asked to call Fort Wayne police at (260) 427-1201 or Crime Stoppers at (260) 436-STOP.
"We know there are individuals who have information about these robberies, we've seen several. If you have that information, you need to do your part too and call police," Raquel Foster with the Fort Wayne Police Department said.
Friday police continued following up on several leads in a rash of home invasions across the city.
Thursday evening, police were called to two separate apartment buildings for home invasions with similar suspect descriptions and similar circumstances, but one ended in gunfire.
That brings the total number of armed robberies or home invasions to eight since the late-evening hours of January 7.
Investigators told NewsChannel 15 that around 9:30 p.m. Thursday, two armed black men in their late-teens or early 20s, wearing dark clothing, forced a woman into her apartment at Island Club Apartments off Wallen Road.
The men bound the hands of the three occupants in the apartment and threatened to kill them if they called police. Police said they took a television, wallets, and cell phones. None of the occupants were injured.
Forty-five minutes after the incident, the occupants left and went to a family member's home where they called police.
Then, around 11:30 p.m., police were called to Cambridge Square Apartments in the 7500 block of Coldsprings Boulevard for another home invasion.
Investigators said the victims gave suspect descriptions similar to those described in the Island Club home invasion. The suspects also bound the hands of all the occupants of this apartment. The two men collected several items from the apartment before leaving. One of the victims managed to free himself and fired upon the fleeing men.
Injuries were reported at this invasion; one victim was kicked in the head and one hit in the face.
Around midnight, a male suffering from a gunshot wound to the buttocks was dropped off at a hospital, according to police. Police said the individual said he was shot around the Lima Road and Cook Road area, which is less than a mile from the Coldsprings Boulevard home invasion.
Currently, police have not confirmed the shooting victim is connected to the shooting incident on Coldsprings Boulevard. A condition of that victim was not provided, but his injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.
"The timing is of note to us," Foster said. "That is a separate investigation and we have not linked the two."
Managers at Cambridge Square Apartments and Island Club Apartments told NewsChannel 15 letters to the complexes' residents went out Friday. They alerted the residents of the robberies happening at complexes across the city and provided reminders on personal safety.
"This is an unfortunate situation and management is working with police on this ongoing investigation," Island Club Apartments managers said.
Police found an air pistol in the parking lot of the Coldsprings home invasion. Police were not sure if the air pistol belonged to the occupants of the apartment or if the suspects had the pistol and dropped it after shots were fired inside the apartment.
Crime scene technicians were photographing bullet casings just outside the front door and bullet holes in the front door.
Investigators said a bag of belongings the suspects may have been trying to take was found near the front door of the apartment.
Police are talking with all individuals involved in both invasions. They are also investigating the shooting victim to determine if he is possibly involved or if it is a separate incident.
Currently, police are treating all three incidents individually and cautioned they may not be linked at all.
Members of the Fort Wayne Gang Unit are assisting in current investigations involving armed robberies and home invasions.
A member of the gang unit said they do not believe the increased number of home invasions and armed robberies are gang related, but rather a new fad involving young individuals. They believe the same individuals are behind each incident.
In the eight recent cases, all but one of the criminal acts has been committed by two individuals. One incident was reported to involve one suspect.
Thursday afternoon, Foster said residents and visitors around apartment buildings need to be aware of their surroundings.
"It's possible we could see a similar incident, and we don't want that," Foster said. "We want to alert the apartment complex residents, encourage them to be vigilant, park in well lit areas and do not hesitate to call in any suspicious activity."
"I will tell you that your apartment complexes,
unfortunately, are an ideal location for that type of crime," Foster said. "You have a lot of people walking in and out, arriving home or leaving. In most of our incidents, the victims are by themselves.
No arrests have been made.
Anyone with information should call the Fort Wayne Police Department at (260) 427-1201 or call Crime Stoppers at (260) 436-STOP anonymously.
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