SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Sullivan County investigators need your help to stop a continuing rash of home burglaries.
Officials told us during the past month, at least five homes have been targeted, and there's one community in particular that needs to be on alert.
24-year-old Mark Miller came home to an unwelcome surprise Monday inside his Piney Flats apartment. "[I] saw the light was on [and] thought that was weird. [I] saw drawers were open and knew that wasn't me, and I could tell the dust ruffle on my bed was kind of messed up like someone had picked up my mattress," Miller told News 5.
As it turns out, his home was ransacked by thieves.
A police report states three guns worth thousands of dollars were stolen. "I was utterly freaking out," said Miller.
We found out he's not the only one.
Public information officer for the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department, Leslie Earhart, told News 5 deputies responded to at least five home burglaries in Piney Flats since the beginning of the month. "This is considered a substantial number of home burglaries in a one-to-two-mile area in Piney Flats, so we are concerned. We do think it is the same group of people targeting these homes," said Earhart.
There's also a similar pattern. Earhart said the suspects broke into the homes when residents weren't around and went to the bedroom to take guns, jewelry, and cash, but nothing else.
Earhart advises residents in the area to always "try to do something to make it appear as if you are home. Also, touch base with our neighbors [and] ask them to keep an eye out if you know that you're going to be gone all day."
Earhart also told us if you own guns, you should document the serial numbers and keep them in a safe that can't be picked up. For jewelry, officials told us you should take pictures of what you own; that way you can know what's been stolen and have a detailed description to give investigators.
For Mark Miller it's too late, though it's not this particular crime he's most concerned about. "If they stole my TV or anything else I can replace that, but guns, I don't like that in the wrong hands," said Miller.
If you have any information about this case, you're asked to call the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office at (423) 279-7506.
You can also leave a tip online; go to their website, http://www.scsotn.com/