Elizabethton Police Department warns citizens to lock their cars

John Thompson • Jul 24, 2019 at 7:23 PM

ELIZABETHTON — With the number of stolen cars up by 62.7% in the city, the Elizabethton Police Department is reminding motorists to lock their cars when they are parked.

Capt. Shane Darling, commander of the department’s Criminal Investigation Division, said July has seen a larger number of stolen cars. “So far in July we have taken 17 reports on stolen vehicles.”

While some of the reports of stolen cars turn out to be civil cases or simple joyriding, others turn out to be stolen car crimes.

There is some good news in the statistics. Darling said, “Many of those have been returned to the owners, and suspects have been identified.”

Darling said there are ways to track new cars, but sometimes when a car is found, it has sustained damage. All of the locks are sometimes destroyed and the items stored in the car have been taken.

The high numbers of stolen cars taken so far in July continues a trend for 2019. Darling said that from Jan. 1 until July 1, there were 75 cars stolen in Elizabethton this year. That compares to 47 stolen cars reported from Jan. 1 to July 1, 2018.

Darling said one thing in the statistics shows that car owners can help reduce the theft incidents. He said many of the stolen cars “were a result of someone leaving their vehicle unlocked with the keys inside. We have heard a lot of folks say ‘I was just running in real quick’, or ‘I was only gone for a minute.’ ... It only takes a second for a thief to steal a vehicle.”

For that reason, the Elizabethton Police Department has issued an alert, urging motorists to lock their car.

“Be diligent, don't leave your keys in your vehicle, or your vehicle unlocked even if it's just for a second,” Darling said.

Thomas Gray, public information officer for the Carter County Sheriff’s Department had more advice for motorists. “Don’t leave valuables in plain sight,” Gray said. Such items can easily be stolen by simply smashing a car window, he said.