Car burglaries on the rise in Johnson City; Handguns, phones common items stolen

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- Over the last few months, Johnson City police say there has been an increase the number of car burglaries at area shopping centers and some neighborhoods in the city.

Michael Sheffield has lived peacefully in Boones Creek for nearly 30 years. Now with a rise in car burglaries and after becoming a victim himself, he’s being a bit more cautious.

break-ins-2We had one night that we left one vehicle unlocked we thought something had been prowled with,” Sheffield said.

The thievery doesn’t stop there.

“My son did lose a bicycle last week. It was actually at our side yard and we haven’t been able to find it,” Sheffield said

Johnson City police told News Channel 11 that vehicle burglaries are steadily rising at shopping centers across the city.

“They leave items that are great value visible to the perpetrator and they become an easy target by leaving their vehicles unlocked,” Sergeant Don Shepard said.

Sergeant Don Shepard says they get about 30 to 35 auto burglary cases each month. 90% of those cases are because vehicles are left unlocked.

Shepard says one of the most startling discoveries is the rise in handguns being stolen from unlocked cars.

“People with handguns are leaving them in the vehicle, are not very responsible. Most people put there handguns under the seat, that is the first place they are going to check,” Shepard said.

Police also say they are not just concerned about cars area shopping centers, but cars parked in neighborhoods. In addition, cell phones are also among the most common items stolen from vehicles.

“Lock your cars, that’s what I think. All cars have locks, lock them,” Kathy Lee said.

Kathy Lee lives in Boones Creek and knows about the spike in car burglaries. She is most on edge about people stealing guns.

“That’s even more scary. Whose got those guns? What kind of mind set are those people whose got those guns?” asked Lee.

Johnson City Police urge people to be on alert and take simple steps such as locking your car at all times and keeping items you’ve purchased out of sight.

Copyright 2016 WJHL.  All rights reserved.

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