NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A rash of commercial burglaries may have been solved Thursday, thanks in part to a Nashville paper company.
Investigators say the thieves were stealing box trucks to commit crimes all over the mid-state.
The unusual part? Detectives said the bandits returned the trucks to the companies that own them, parking them exactly as they were so as not to raise suspicion.
Authorities said it worked for months until this past Tuesday when Cheatham County law officers blew the case wide open.
Detective Jeff Landis said his involvement with the alleged burglary ring began on Sunday, Feb. 28, when a burglar alarm summoned deputies to Teeters Market on River Road.
By the time deputies arrived, they found no sign of the suspects.
But there was one surveillance photo that showed a suspect inside the store. Behind him, a 24-foot box truck with the Dennis Paper Co. logo on it.
Landis immediately went to the paper company off Elm Hill Pike.
Approaching a truck in the driveway, he puts his hand on the hood and the engine was warm.
Company vice president, Steve Dennis, said the trucks are not used on weekends or after hours.
It was quickly deduced that the thieves had gained access to the vehicles and are using them to burglarize businesses.
Landis told News 2 the trucks provide a screen in front of the business allowing the bad guys to cut open the doors.
And the trucks have hydraulic lifts and dollies that allow the suspects to put items on and in the truck.
Landis said the bad guys returned the trucks to the exact spot they were taken from, so as not to raise awareness.
He decided to put a GPS tracking device on the paper truck.
Tuesday morning that decision paid off as he was notified that the truck was on the move to Kentucky.
With the help of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, deputies took the truck down during a felony stop.
Richard Tucker and Sam Womack were arrested during the stop.
Burglary tools and walkie talkies were found in their possession.
Landis said the two have a very long criminal history of burglaries and robberies.
Dennis Paper Company has been in business in Nashville for 50 years
Vice President Steve Dennis told News 2 the family was shocked to learn that thieves had been stealing Dennis Paper Trucks to commit crimes around Middle Tennessee and possibly Kentucky.
“It was a shock. You don’t expect that,” he said. “We had no idea the vehicles were being taken, they were bringing them back and parking them in the exact same spot and leaving everything just as it was.”
Knowing the paper truck was key to officers solving the crime spree.
Cheatham county deputies have charged the two men with burglary and vehicle theft.
Wilson County and Metro police are considering charges as well.