Athens residents on edge after 19 break-ins - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Athens residents on edge after 19 break-ins

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ATHENS, TN (WRCB) -

Police are investigating a string of break-ins in one Athens neighborhood.

Residents are so scared, some are staying up all night on lookout.

Police say they've taken 19 burglary reports over the last week all along Park Street and its side streets, like Douglas, Kilgore and Scott streets.

Athens Police say the 19 break-ins have happened at all hours, but no one has actually seen anyone to give a suspect description. They think it's likely the same person or group of people responsible.

"I've heard people say they feel violated. I don't really know what that means. I'm petrified," theft victim Gail Campbell said.

Campbell lives alone on Kilgore Street. Someone hit her home twice in the same day. Once overnight, then again while out walking her dogs around noon Wednesday.

"This bench is what they knocked the door with," Campbell said.

You can see where someone tried prying her door open, then busted out several windows.

"They just started in all in the house and pulling stuff out," she said.

She says they pulled out drawers, ripped sheets and even tore apart the dog beds. She's still discovering missing items. So far, she knows jewelry, a camera and some small antiques are gone.

"It's very frightening to me. Scary. I'm even afraid to go to the grocery store and leave the dogs alone. It scares me something will happen to them," Campbell said.

"If people want to break into it, they're breaking the lock," Athens Police Capt. Frank Horning said.

Police say two homes have been broken into, but many have been out buildings with the locks busted off, and lawn mowers and weed eaters taken.
     
Elizabeth Graves' car was broken into.

"Casing with the ignition was all ripped out and with it and it was just hanging there with the wires all hanging," Graves said.

Her boyfriend and other neighbors have been staying up all night on the lookout for prowlers.

"A shaky panic. My children they're afraid to walk to the bus stop by themselves. They've been piling up and sleeping on pallets in the living room together," Graves said.

Many suspect it's someone who lives nearby.

"Whoever it is has been watching the neighborhood. They know when everybody was home and people were in bed," Graves said.

"Only they would've been familiar. You can't see a fence back there," Campbell said.

Since no one has actually seen anyone, there's no suspect description.

"We don't know who. We don't have any suspects at this time," Capt. Horning said.

Residents are working to establish a neighborhood watch.

Police say the strange part is that the culprit is passing by some valuable items to take smaller, more inexpensive items. They didn't get any new reports today, so they're hoping the worst of it's over.

If you see anything suspicious, or may know who could be responsible you're asked to call the Athens Police Department.

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