Burglaries ramp up in local area

Published 10:22am Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A rash of vehicle burglaries that ramped up Saturday night in the county appears to be spreading throughout the city, and is under investigation by the Brookhaven Police Department and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department.

Saturday night, several residents of the Zetus and Hilltop communities reported vehicle burglaries and vandalism of property to the sheriff’s department. Five vehicle burglaries and two incidents of mailbox vandalism occurred in a stretch of area on Lucky Lane, Truly Trail, Lonesome Pine Trail and Oilfield Lane.

Since then, vehicle burglaries have been reported on South Jackson Street, South Church Street, Morningside Drive, Kraner Lane, Highway 84 East, Lakewood Drive and Loyd Star Lane.

According to law enforcement officials, the suspect(s) are allegedly breaking into unlocked vehicles in what appears to be an opportunistic, yet organized string of burglaries.

“It appears as if they are going from vehicle to vehicle and looking for any unlocked doors. Then the suspects are stealing whatever is inside,” said Sheriff Steve Rushing.

On Sunday night and into early Monday morning, the Brookhaven Police Department responded to vehicle burglaries fitting the description of incidents in the county on South Jackson and South Church streets.

So far, no arrests have been made regarding the incidents.

Sheriff Rushing noted that information gathered Monday morning has helped the sheriff’s department’s investigation.

“My investigators have been following up on some promising leads from the Saturday night incidents,” said Rushing.

Brookhaven Chief of Police Bobby Bell says arrests were made in late December regarding home burglaries and related thefts. In those cases, police arrested several juveniles and a few adults. It is not certain at this time if there is any relation to the recent thefts, according to Bell.

“So far the recent string of vehicle thefts continues to be under investigation,” said Bell. “We are looking into past thefts to look for any possible connection. We are also using our resources to track down possible suspects involved,” Bell continued.

A victim of theft on South Jackson Street, Nikki McClain says that while the police department has been very helpful, and she has noticed increased police patrols, the experience has affected her and her family.

“I can’t sleep at night. We don’t feel safe anymore,” McClain said.

Among the items stolen from McClain included an iPad, cellphone and other electronics valued at approximately $2,200.

Other items stolen during the theft spree include hunting equipment, designer glasses, clothing apparel, electronics and money.

“There are a lot of widows living alone in my neighborhood. I’m worried for them,” said Renee Naeger, a neighborhood captain with the Vernondale Neighborhood Watch Program. On Monday, a neighbor of Naeger’s on Morningside Drive was the victim of a vehicle burglary.

“Keep doors locked. Look out for one another,” Naeger warned.

Police and sheriff’s department officials caution the community to lock vehicle doors. Law enforcement officials also urge the public to contact them with any information regarding the thefts.