The night of June 12, 2018, a clerk at Southern Spirits on Sparta Pike in Lebanon made a frantic call to 911.
DISPATCHER: “Lebanon police and fire, where is your emergency?”
CALLER: “Somebody, somebody robbed me with a gun.”
DISPATCHER: “Did they take anything?”
CALLER: “Yes, they took the money from the drawer. He had a small gun.”
A few days later, on June 20, a similar vehicle was believed to be involved in the robbery of a clerk at Wine and Spirits Liquor, a few blocks away.
CALLER: “Yes, ma’am. Somebody tried to rob my store.”
DISPATCHER: “Did they pull a gun?”
Lebanon police said these two armed robberies were not indicative of the crime trends in the city of 33,000 because the crime rate appears to be on a downward trek over at least the last three years. And the police department has more than doubled in size.
Sgt. PJ Hardy told News 2 the city still has its fair share of crime: “it wasn’t so many years ago that we were one of those sleepy little towns where you could leave your keys in your vehicle and the windows rolled down and that sort of thing, but those times, unfortunately, are past us.”
“We’ve had some juvenile crimes that stem from the Metro area,” the sergeant added. “They come here, burglarize vehicles and then typically take a vehicle and go back to Nashville.”
Statistics from the Lebanon Police Department show the city, which is along I-40 outside of Nashville, experienced one armed robbery and zero carjackings for the first two months of 2019.
News 2 took a look at armed robberies and carjackings for the same time period, January and February, of the last five years in other cities located along the interstates near Nashville.
Smyrna, along I-24, experienced a handful of armed or aggravated robberies, peaking at eight in 2017, then dropping back down for the last two years. During this time period, the largest number of carjackings was one and it was this year.
“It’s still one too many,” Sgt. Bobby Gibson with the Smyrna Police Department said. “We would love to be able to send out statistics that we had zero armed robberies, carjackings, zero crime. Now that’s probably a dream…. but we will continue to strive to make that a zero number.”
This year, the city of Franklin, located along I-65, had its first carjacking in five years during the months of January and February. The city also registered four armed robberies in 2019.
Mt. Juliet police reported one carjacking in 2016 and 2018, but zero for this year. The high point for armed robberies was in the first two months of 2018 at two.