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Police find more than $100,000 worth of stolen goods

Police find more than $100,000 worth of stolen goods. // WSBT 22

More than $100,000 worth of stolen goods -- found.

Police around the area showed it off Wednesday.

Those items were stolen from cars and homes. Police say the items were traced back to St. Joseph and Cass Counties. They think thieves also snatched these possessions from as far away as Illinois and Ohio.

Now police are trying to return it all.

"If I can give 100-percent of this property to the people, make them feel a little relief that they're not quite as violated or they have some closure, that would make my Christmas," said Captain Tony Bontrager, South Bend Police Department.

Around 700 items valued at more than $100,000 reported missing from at least five jurisdictions.

Police hope the pile gives people some peace of mind.

"This shows, months later, however long it takes, ultimately we might be able to find it and piece it back together," said Bontrager.

Officers are still piecing things together.

One man, Peter Allen Wharton, was arrested and charged with theft.

Officers served three warrants at two homes in South Bend to find all this stuff.

"We don't know the extent of how everything is related or if they're truly related," said Bontrager.

Bontrager and this team of officers also seem pretty intent on getting these possessions returned.

He says if you've reported something stolen, contact the agency where you made the report to see if your goods have been found. Bontrager says you should also register your valuables on an app the South Bend police use called "Report-It."

"Serial numbers, just descriptions, pictures, you can scan in receipts and with that. If you do have things lost or stolen or a fire, you can go back on, pull that sheet. Give it to either your insurance company or give it to the police so we have a complete detailed list,” said Bontrager.

While police try to figure out who stole all this stuff, Bontrager has a message for the thieves.

"How dare you? You're not just taking a piece of property, you're taking away from somebody and that can be a connection to a family member who's passed away. So, go out and get a job and go out and buy your own things," said Bontrager.

Bontrager says there are things you can do to protect yourself from theft.

He says lock your car doors and make sure any valuables are covered up.

If a would-be robber can't get in or doesn't see anything worthwhile, he'll probably just walk on by.

Bontrager says the same thing goes for your home, especially with so many gifts under the Christmas Tree.

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