WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Washington County Tennessee Sheriff’s Office believes a single group of perpetrators is responsible for more than 40 vehicle break-ins in the county.
A release from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) states that all of the vehicles that were broken into were unlocked and had valuables inside. The WCSO stated that an investigation is underway, and other nearby law enforcement agencies are looking into the matter as well.
“It appears to be the same group hitting unlocked vehicles in neighborhoods,” Washington County Sheriff Keith Sexton said in the release. “They’re not forcing their way into cars and trucks to dig through glove boxes and swipe purses.”
The sheriff’s office reports that firearms were stolen from vehicles in close to a dozen of the break-ins.
In response to the string of thefts, the WCSO reports it has “stepped up overnight patrols with additional officers.”
News Channel 11 spoke with several victims in two small subdivisions off of Old Embreeville Road. Many of them said they were surprised by the run of crime in the quiet neighborhoods.
“Most everyone keeps their doors open and cars unlocked until now,” said Kristen Smith, whose two cars were broken into on April 6.
Residents said about 15 homes between the subdivisions were hit by the criminals, who they suspect were searching for guns and cash.
Sexton advised any residents who have security cameras to monitor activity at night and report suspicious behavior.
“Several homeowners in neighborhoods affected have provided us with footage from their home security cameras, and while that is definitely helpful, we would like to catch them as they work through neighborhoods,” Sexton said. “If you see something, please call 911 immediately.”
Sexton advised residents to lock their vehicles and be responsible gun owners by properly securing firearms inside their homes every night. The WCSO also warns against leaving valuables in vehicles.
An exact timeline of when the break-ins occurred was not provided in the release. No exact locations of the break-ins were provided either.
Though nothing was valuable from her cars, Smith said she hopes the police are able to find the perpetrators.
“I would like just the police to take it seriously,” said Smith. “Not to just write us off because nothing extremely valuable may have been taken but to actually investigate it and to try to find who’s hitting up multiple neighborhoods around here.”