Targeted Overland Park residents band together against burglars - KCTV5 News

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Targeted Overland Park residents band together against burglars

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OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -

They organized, they fought back and now it looks like Johnson County's Indian community may have won against burglars police say were targeting them.

"This is not the community you want to mess with," said Venkat Manda, the organizer of the group Watch KC.

Police say the burglaries ended shortly after the group met in mid-December. Dozens of concerned Indian families packed into the Overland Park Police Department, looking for help.

Officer Gary Mason said it's likely the perpetrators have left the area.

"Probably traveling across the country committing these burglaries and have moved on," Mason said.

"People are having a little bit of relief, but at the same time, we are not letting our guard down," said Sridhar Harohalli, another organizer of Watch KC

About a dozen Southeast Asian, mostly Indian, families were targeted in Johnson County. They were smash and grab robberies where valuables like gold and jewelry were snatched.

"We are a little bit more careful of what we keep in the house," Manda said.

Overland Park police said there have been a couple of arrests in Texas of people committing these kinds of crimes. Police are working to connect the suspects arrested there to the crimes committed here. They also hope to recover some of the stolen goods, though the main goal, according to authorities, is to make sure the families are safe.

"If a dear family member is hurt, it's irreplaceable," Harohalli said.

Despite the fear the crimes have caused, neighborhood watch organizers said that fear has actually drawn the community closer together.

"I'm watchful for my neighbor, whether he is an Indian or an American. Doesn't matter, right? We are all Americans here. We live here, so we're all Americans. We will watch out for each other," Manda proclaimed.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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