A string of auto break-ins in recent weeks has the Johnson City Police Department urging citizens to take all precautions in securing their vehicles, and police have released a list of tips to prevent auto break-ins.
According to police records, there have been 43 car break-ins in the last two weeks, the majority of which are the result of a vehicle being left unlocked.
Lt. Steve Sherfey said that these types of crimes can come in waves, where they’ll see a great deal of burglaries, then a period of very few.
“We always get quite a few auto burglaries around the holidays,” Sherfey said. “But we’re not at the holidays yet.”
In a news release, police said they were on the case to solve the recent increase in break-ins, which is also a statewide problem. More than 35,000 cases of vehicle-related crimes have been reported in Tennessee so far this year.
Of the items taken in recent vehicle burglaries have been cigarettes, textbooks, loose change, cellular phone chargers, GPS devices, a Bible and fishing equipment.
Recommendations from the police include:
- Make sure the vehicle is locked and the car alarm is set. The alarm should be set even if the vehicle is left unattended for a short amount of time.
- A visible gym bag or backpack may be seen as holding something of value, and vehicle owners should never leave a firearm in their car, as it would be considered a prize for a thief.
- Another deterrent to car burglaries is parking in well-lighted areas, especially for overnight parking. Local residents would have a better chance to see any illegal activity if it didn’t take place in the dark.
- Talking to neighbors and setting up a plan could be a valuable way to stay informed as to suspicious activity in the area. If a car alarm is heard, it’s recommended to always check it out.
- With remote car trunk releases, trunks aren’t a safe place to keep valuables. It’s not uncommon for burglars to keep an eye on shopping center parking lots to watch shoppers putting valuables in their trunk before walking away to continue shopping.
- A useful resource in crimestopping is the www.raidsonline.com website. It will allow visitors to see crimes mapped out in their area, and also has a feature to sign up for email alerts when new incidents occur.
Officials on East Tennessee State University’s campus have had similar issues, and are taking the opportunity to echo the city police’s concerns.
“We’ve had three in the last week,” ETSU media relations representative Joe Smith said. “We’re using this as an opportunity to remind faculty and staff to lock their vehicles.”
Smith said of the three break-ins, all were cases in which the car wasn’t locked. There was also a case of a vehicle being stolen. Smith said the baseball field was where a few of the incidents had occurred.
Any tips in connection with recent break-ins can be anonymously submitted via text message to 847411, with “423JCPD” coming first in the body of the tip.
Editor's note: The original version of this story posted on the web incorrectly stated that there had been 72 car break-ins since Sept. 1, and has been corrected.