HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Stealing a car in Middle Tennessee has become so easy, it’s literally two steps.
First, find a door unlocked. Second, find keys in the car.
Teens are doing it more than anyone and they are not just stealing the cars, they are going on high-speed chases in communities.
To Hendersonville Commander Scott Ryan, car theft isn’t just the stealing of a single car. It’s the catalyst for a crime spree that almost always escalates in volatility.
“It turns into car jackings later on or drive-by shootings, so we treat these like violent crimes, like a kidnapping almost, we start hunting that immediately,” said Ryan.
Local police departments have countless hours of footage of chasing young thieves who are reckless and focused on escape.
“Their only game is not to get caught, and they will run till the wheels fall off.”
Commander Ryan says car thieves are calculating.
“They are finding these subdivisions getting on Google Earth and looking for nice subdivisions where the homes are close together and the driveways are close together and they can hit as much as possible.”
A video from 2018 demonstrates a sophisticated level of coordination. Where two vehicles stop, four teens flood a driveway. Each teen is responsible for a specific car.
“Looking for guns and car keys,” said Commander Ryan.
All the doors are locked except for one. The teen steals what he can grab. In this case, there is no key left in the car, so it wasn’t stolen.
In less than 30 seconds, the teens are gone, on to the next predetermined location.
“In this case, they stole a car in another subdivision adjacent to this one, so we know this is what they are looking for, car keys.”
Commander Ryan says Hendersonville police know car thieves are coming, so his officers are preparing for them.
“These are not kids, these are criminals, they are well versed in the criminal acts they are committing, they take measures to identify areas where they can grab the goodies, and take measures to avoid detection and they are certainly going to evade when we get after them,” said Commander Ryan.
Ryan says he only has one thing to say to car thieves who target Hendersonville.
“If you come to Hendersonville and commit these crimes, we are coming for you.”