CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — During the month of August alone, surveillance cameras in various parts of Clarksville captured thieves breaking into vehicles and stealing the contents.
Video showed rocks or concrete used to damage windows and get inside some cars, while criminals simply pulled door handles to enter others. The victims lost their belongings and, in some cases, their mode of transportation.
Despite a drop in violent crimes, Clarksville has been plagued by a significant increase in auto thefts and auto burglaries, according to the city’s police department.
Chief Alonzo Ansley told News 2 that part of the problem is teenagers.
“Juvenile crime seems to be up especially and crime knows no borders, so we get issues from outside,” the chief explained. “Metro Nashville gets some of our thefts. We find them down there. We find some of theirs here.”
Numbers provided by Clarksville police paint a picture of the troubling trend.
Through August 27, the department received 748 reports of vehicles burglarized. At the same time last year, that number was 661.
Over the same time period this year, 342 vehicles were reported stolen in the city, compared to 247 in 2018.
“When you talk about a vehicle burglary, there practically are no solvability factors involved in that,” Chief Ansley said. “How do you solve that crime, if nobody saw it?”
Repeat offenders have also played a role in the increase in auto thefts and burglaries, the chief revealed. He said the criminals are arrested, released and then commit the same crimes.
“People deserve a second chance, but not a 25th, a 30th, and a 35th chance,” Chief Ansley said. “You have two options: you keep ’em in jail, maybe buy them a one-way ticket to Australia.”
Numbers from the Clarksville Police Department have shown a drop in violent crimes, including homicide. So far in 2019, the city has investigated nine homicides. By this point in 2018, that number was already at 13.
Chief Ansley explained the next step will be combatting the growing number of property crimes, which includes help from the public.
“You’re the eyes out there. We cannot be everywhere,” he said.
Crime statistics for previous years are available on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation website.