KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Three men have been arrested after they allegedly stole a rifle, ammunition and other equipment from law enforcement vehicles during an October burglary spree in Knox County.
Brandon Douglas, 18; Marques A. Smith, 22; and William Allan Richard Johnston, 20, all of Knoxville, face a variety of felony burglary, theft and vandalism charges. A fourth suspect mentioned in a general sessions docket is a female juvenile.
The investigation began Oct. 14, when Knoxville Police Department’s Property Crimes investigators responded to a call about a vehicle burglary on Gallant Fox Way in West Knoxville. A passport, drivers license, backpack and laptop valued around 1,600 was taken from a pickup.
During the course of that investigation, it was found that multiple other vehicles had been burglarized — including a marked KPD cruiser, a marked Tennessee Highway Patrol Cruiser, and a marked Knox County Sheriff’s Office cruiser.
According to warrants and police reports, a Knoxville Police cruiser burglarized in the 5700 block of Lyons View Pike was missing a KPD Colt M4 Rifle and three loaded Magpul magazines, valued at $1,500.
In the 800 block of Londontown Way, a Tennessee Highway Patrol cruiser was burglarized, with a ballistic vest and gas mask, valued at $3,000, stolen from the cruiser, the warrant states.
In another Oct. 14 burglary, a Smith and Wesson M&P shield firearm valued at $600 was stolen from a vehicle in the 500 block of Camp Light Way, according to the warrants.
On Nov. 16, police went to Smith’s apartment for a parole and probation check. Police found and recovered the five stolen firearms listed in a database from separate vehicle burglaries — including the rifle stolen from the KPD cruiser — along with the THP’s ballistic vest and a Smith and Wesson M&P shield firearm during a search of Smith’s bedroom. The gas mask is not listed as recovered.
The general sessions docket said that video recovered from the scenes show a Chevrolet Trax with several suspects inside, and that several days later video captured of a matching vehicle involved in a vandalism at Sacred Heart Church helped police identify Johnston, Douglas, and the female juvenile. According to police, Johnston and Marques were roommates.
Warrants show that investigators believe the juvenile drove the Trax and waited while Smith broke out vehicle windows, allowing Johnston “because of his small stature,” to climb in the window and unlock the door for Smith to enter.
Investigators wrote in the warrant that the juvenile told police she didn’t get out of the vehicle but was given money for gas that had been stolen from one of the burglaries, and that Douglas was given a stolen watch.
Smith is charged with possession of unlawful drug paraphernalia, five counts of theft of a firearm less than $2,500, theft of property between $2,500 and $10,000, theft of property between $1,000 and $2,500, vandalism between $2,500 and $10,000, and five counts of burglary of a motor vehicle.
Johnston is charged with five counts of burglary of a motor vehicle, theft of property and vandalism, each up to $1,000, theft of property between $1,000 and $2,500, and vandalism between $2,500 and $10,000.
Douglas is charged with five counts of burglary of a motor vehicle, theft of property between $1,000 and $2,500, and vandalism between $2,500 and $10,000.
Both Smith and Johnston are listed in the Knox County Criminal Justice System as in jail, although Douglas in not listed as in jail. No bond is listed for Smith or Johnston.