Knoxville Police: Car burglaries are up this year; victims speak out

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — One Fountain City couple is double checking their car doors each night after catching someone breaking into their car.

Michael and Adam Bublé are used to feeling safe, but an incident at their new apartment has left them feeling violated.

“We moved down from south Knoxville and in south Knoxville, I was comfortable enough that I was actually able to leave my front door unlocked,” Michael said. “I come downstairs to get in the car and go to a doctors appointment and that’s when I realized someone had been in my vehicle that night.”

On March 4, Michael and Adam’s car was broken into, but what their burglar didn’t know is they had a camera installed on their dashboard that is automatically activated whenever a door opens. The camera records video and audio, and has night vision. The camera was recording the entire time a burglar was in their car rummaging through it.

Michael says the suspect didn’t take anything, but the incident rattled him and Adam.

“In the beginning I was mad that someone had done it,” Michael said.
“I just felt violated, it’s not their property,” Adam said.

The 51-second video shows the suspect rummaging through the car, taking items out of the center console and throwing them in the drivers seat. He then gets out of the car appearing not to have taken anything. It happened early morning on the 4th. Michael turned the video into Knoxville Police later that day.

According to the Knoxville Police Department, the suspect was with a second male checking other vehicles in the parking lot and left in a small red four-door passenger vehicle.

Scott Erland with KPD says car burglaries in Knoxville are up this year. The majority of those break-ins are happening in cars that are unlocked.

“In 2020 according to our stats, nearly 40 percent of car burglaries came from vehicles that were left unlocked,” Erland said.

Another 30% of cars were accessed via “Unknown Means” meaning there’s a high chance those cars were also unlocked since there was no visible sign of forced entry or broken windows.

Erland says that means in 2020, upwards of 70% of vehicles that were burglarized were left unlocked.

“A lot of times it might just be the vehicle owner says ‘well I think I left the vehicle unlocked, but I’m not sure’,” Erland said.

Michael admits he accidentally left his doors unlocked that night, but he says he won’t be making that mistake again.

“I hope that we’re able to find out who he is and I hope we’re able to bring change to this person. Make him realize that what he did was wrong,” Michael said.

KPD says most burglars will bypass a car if it’s difficult to get into. They urge the public to make sure their car doors are locked and avoid leaving items of value in your car.

Police are still on the search for the suspect in the video. If you know who the person is in the video, you are asked to call 865-215-7212 or email propertycrimes@knoxvilletn.gov.

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