Crime Tracker: Burglars Return to Williamson County
WILLIAMSON COUNTY -- It's been eight months since the first in a string of break-ins. There have been 17 in all, targeting detached garages and outbuildings.
The thieves have gotten away with thousands of dollars in property and police have few leads. They grabbed whatever they could and took off, usually inside a stolen vehicle. These crooks target unlocked buildings and cars with the keys inside.
Jim Gulledge has lived in the same house on Prosperity Road near Johnston City for 33 years.
His home was always a place of comfort, but that all changed back in October, when his garage was burglarized.
"Not only my truck's gone, my four-wheeler's gone, my welder's gone and on and on. They cleaned the garage completely out of anything," Gulledge explained.
It was a startling discovery.
"When somebody comes in and steals your stuff you know it really upsets your system. You know, it seems like you've been violated," he said.
The burglary happened under the cover of darkness, just like 16 others throughout Williamson County, in both rural and residential neighborhoods.
"They looked for unlocked buildings, unlocked vehicles that had the keys in the vehicle," added Deputy Brian Murrah.
He says it appears the crooks scouted out their locations ahead of time, because they were able to clear out every garage and barn without waking a homeowner or pet.
"If the door's unlocked they don't have to take any time to force it open, they don't have to make any noise to force it open, theres a whole lot less disturbance if all they have to do is twist the handle," Murrah said.
None of the property has been recovered, besides the vehicles.
"There has to be a market for it... They're not taking the vehicles for a purpose or profit; just for the transportation part of it," elaborated Murrah.
Gulledge's truck was found near Saint Louis, but he sold it. To him, it was tainted.
"We noticed they'd put over 800 miles on that truck so we got to thinking we have no idea how many other possible burglaries they had done in our truck," Gulledge said.
A burglary ring of this magnitude, is a first in Murrah's experience.
"At this scale, at this level of success, this is new. I've been here 16 years and this is new to me," Murrah conceded.
Police encourage you to engrave power tools and write down serial numbers of your property, so they can be returned if found. As always, keep doors locked and keys away from parked vehicles.
If you have any information about these crimes, or others in your community, send tips via email to email@example.com or Facebook WSIL Sam Jones.
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