Chandler said two car thefts were reported in the previous few days, both in which the cars were left unlocked.
“Please always check to ensure your car is locked, and be aware of your surroundings, especially at night,” said Chandler.
The first incident was a break in Thursday on Ashmere Court and the second was at the Shell gas station Sunday on Lebanon Road where the car was left running while the owner was inside.
Similar incidents have taken place just across the city limits in Hermitage.
“It appears suspects are crossing over into Mt. Juliet to commit unlocked car burglaries and thefts, which we have experienced before,” said Chandler. “Our officers continue to work hard to prevent this type of activity, and detectives continue to work and share information with nearby agencies in hopes of stopping the suspects.”
Mt. Juliet police officers charged several teens in December for their involvement in a series of car burglaries within the city.
After a three-month long investigation, Mt. Juliet police, Metro-Nashville police, Brentwood police and Wilson County sheriff’s detectives were able to recover 12 cars, eight guns, a bullet-resistant vest, several electronic devices and other items apparently stolen by the teens in the series of burglaries.
The nine boys arrested were found in the Nashville area. Five were at McGavock High School, two were at home in Hermitage and two were already in custody at an unnamed detention facility. The teens ranged in age from 14-17 years old.
According to Chandler, detectives were able to identify the suspects through the help of the community and local news media. Many tips came in from the community after home surveillance video was released, and acting on those tips, detectives were able to identify those responsible.
“Partnership with our community is key, and I’m thankful that our community has the trust in us to give us information to help solve crimes,” said Mt. Juliet police Chief James Hambrick. “Today is a result of community partnerships, a good working relationship with our law enforcement partners and fantastic investigative work. I truly hope other youth who are thinking about committing crime understand that there are consequences to their actions.”
Each of the teens was charged with various crimes related to theft of property, vehicle burglary and conspiracy to commit vehicle burglary.
Mt. Juliet isn’t the only area to deal with an increase in vehicle theft, however.
In February, Wilson County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Moore announced that the number of juvenile car thefts in Wilson County in 2017 more than doubled from the year before.
Moore said a crime spree started in the spring and lasted regularly until fall.
“Deputies encountered groups of teens from the Lebanon area, as well as Antioch and Lakewood areas out of Davidson County,” said Moore. “Teens were hitting many well-populated areas such as subdivisions, where they would simply go open the doors of cars and find keys still in the ignition or just laying out in plain sight. If the keys were not found in an unsecure vehicle, they would move on to the next one.”
Many of the teens used the stolen vehicles for joyriding. They would take anything valuable out of the vehicles before dumping them. Wilson County sheriff’s deputies also recovered stolen vehicles in Wilson County from other jurisdictions, including Brentwood, Franklin, Nashville and Hendersonville that were taken by teens committing the same crimes.
Many of the cases led Wilson County sheriff’s deputies on chases, where weapons and drugs were found when the suspects were caught.
Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan urged residents to lock their cars and take anything valuable out of the car when they get out. He also suggested never leaving vehicles unattended to warm up in the mornings.
“These cases can be prevented by securing your vehicles properly every time you leave it unoccupied,” said Bryan. “Many times we are finding citizens making honest mistakes, where they are preoccupied by talking on their phone while exiting their vehicle and just simply forgetting to secure them. While this is also occurring in many jurisdictions around us, as well, we will continue to communicate with other agencies on this growing problem, and we ask the public to remain vigilant on securing their vehicles.”