Police: More than $4k in items stolen from local park since July

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)-  After a viewer reached out to us, concerned about safety at a local park, we looked in to police records and uncovered seven vehicles have been broken in to or damaged since July at Winged Deer Park.

We found no reports in June of crime at the park, but since July, ten people have reported theft and vandalism here.

We talked with one of the victims who said something needs to be done to stop this from happening at one of his favorite parks.

“It’s relaxing,” Gary Mcgee said.

Mcgee and his wife have been regulars at Winged Deer Park since, “Pretty much when it was built,” Mcgee said.

And since then they’ve found their routine there.

“We walk the trail, walk the track,” Mcgee said. “It’s a stress relief for her.”

It’s a stress relief that turned stressful earlier this month.

“She called me and said that her glass was broke,” Mcgee said.

After walking the trail, Mcgee said his wife came back and found someone had tried to get in to her car.

“Luckily they couldn’t get the windows to break all in,” Mcgee said.

But others weren’t so lucky. According to Johnson City Police reports, since July, more than $4,000 in belongings have been snatched from cars parked at Winged Deer.

We asked JCPD if this is typical for this park.

“It’s more of a crime of opportunity where these are so it is hard to detect patterns,” Johnson City Police Lieutenant Steve Sherfey said.

Mcgee said even if this is no more crime than usual, “We feel something could be done to make it a little more safe,” Mcgee said. “There could be cameras put up that would help maybe solve some of the problems that are happening up here.”

But Sherfey said that may not be the answer here.

“Sometimes cameras don’t persuade people to not break in. So if it was a very good system in a place where we could identify people certainly it would help but I don’t know, in that large of an area that would be kind of hard to do,” Sherfey said.

He said a better way to keep the crime down, “Lock your vehicle, don’t leave valuables in the vehicle where people can see them.”

But Mcgee said that’s not enough for his wife.

“With the damage that has happened to her car, she will no longer come up here unless I come and sit in the vehicle,” Mcgee said.

We asked Charlie Stahl with the city of Johnson City if the city would ever consider putting cameras up in the park.

He told us it’s a question that’s been raised and discussed by city leaders before. He said in a perfect world cameras would be great to have, but it has not gotten to the point where the city feels it is a funding priority.

Johnson City Police say it is still investigating the crimes at Winged Deer, and if you have any information contact the police department (423) 434-6160.

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