A series of weekend break-ins is leaving one local community on guard. Police told News 5 thieves targeted mostly cars in the Piney Flats area of Sullivan County, stealing at least $1,000 worth of items and leaving residents there seeking justice.
Kelley Chapman is still shaken up after she got an unexpected visitor Saturday night. "We were watching TV, and I heard a door slam, and I just happened to look out and see my mom's car door open and the light was on," Chapman told News 5 on Monday.
Chapman said a TV sitting on her front porch was stolen along with her backpack. She said her backpack with its contents inside was worth around $600.
Not even half a mile down the road, Greg Taylor woke up to a similar sight. "When I opened up the pickup door, I noticed in the pickup console was open. The dash glove box was open, and I said, 'This is not right,'" Taylor recalled.
Taylor said a pistol and tools, among other items, were taken from his truck.
However, this rash of theft doesn't stop there. News 5 pulled at least 12 reports from the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office. Break-ins, thefts, and vandalism, mainly on cars, were reported along Allison Road and several other nearby roads over the weekend. "At this point we believe it is the same person or group of people that spent Saturday night or early Sunday morning looking for an opportunity to break into vehicles," said Leslie Earhart, public information officer for the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
The report lists hundreds of dollars worth of money, GPS units, electronics, and tools stolen.
Police told us one of the easiest things you can do to prevent theft is to always lock your car when you're not in it and hide valuable things like a GPS to keep it out of sight.
Residents who may have seen something suspicious in the area are asked to offer a tip in hopes this case can be cracked. "Just give us a call. It may seem like a minor piece of information, but it could be the lead we need," Earhart added.
"I hope they get caught and hopefully some of the stuff if not all of it gets returned," said Mike Chapman, a victim of the crime spree.
If you have any information you can call the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office at (423) 279-7500, or you can submit a tip online at www.scsotn.com.
We also checked with the Washington County, Tennessee Sheriff's Office and learned they are working with Sullivan County on reports of car break-ins as well.