Shelby County Sheriff’s Office call vehicle break-ins an epidemic

Shelby County, Tenn. — The Shelby County Sheriff's Office nabs two people they believe are responsible for a rash of vehicle break-ins but are looking for dozens they say could be in involved in other car burglary rings.

Detectives with the Alert Unit are calling it an epidemic and asking for the public's help to stop it.

"Just lock your doors and take your property out of your car at night," said Lt. David Ballard.

Monday afternoon members of Alert Unit arrested Antonio Bateman and Jamil Spencer after they watched them case the Cracker Barrel off I-40 and break into a vehicle and steal a computer.

They said the pair also cased vehicles at hotels and restaurants in the Wolf Chase area.

"We are going to try to link up to as much as we can, but like I said we have several groups we are currently watching," said Lt. Ballard.

The Shelby County said over the last couple of months they've seen a significant increase in the number of car burglaries and yesterday put the pictures of more than thirty suspects on their Facebook page.

They say most are after a quick dollars but are getting their hands on guns left in vehicles.

"When a computer gets stolen that's easy to track, but when a firearm gets stolen that's a completely different incident because we are putting a gun on the street. Take your guns out of your car put them in your house," said Lt. Ballard.

Detectives say crooks aren't just targeting cars at restaurants and hotels, but gym and shopping centers.

Anywhere they know you will be inside thirty minutes or more and they say they are watching you put valuables in the back seat or the trunk of your car.

"If you think you think you have your valuables secured you do not.  If they want it they are going to get it," said Lt. Ballard.

Ballard said cameras in driveways can help them catch bad guys and good lighting will keep them away in the first place.