Car vandal strikes South Knoxville apartment complex

By: Rob Pratt
By: Rob Pratt

Knoxville (WVLT) -- Several people at a South Knoxville apartment complex say they are tired of waking up to discover broken car windows.

Police say they received reports of four more car burglaries last night at University Heights Apartments and the problem may be far more serious.

A mother with two children living at the apartments spent the night with them on Wednesday night.

Her truck was one of the four vehicles the thief broke in to.

She called us because she says this has been going on for months and something needs to be done.

"I'm not a happy mother," said Vickie Croft.

Croft drove up from Myrtle Beach to spend the night with her son and daughter at University Heights Apartments.

When she went outside on Thursday morning, she discovered her car window and at least three others were shattered.

She isn’t alone, residents say it has been going on for months.

"My car has been broken into twice and my CD player has been stolen,” said Spenser Hassler. “I'm sure there have been over 20 break-ins at least."

The police crime lab dusted the scene for prints and looks for clues, but the University Heights victims say an ounce of prevention is the real cure.

"To me, the very least that they could do is hire a private security company to patrol the grounds here," said Croft.

Property manager Kristy Johnson would not talk on camera about the break-ins, but off-camera she said they are doing everything an apartment complex can do.

Police officers who happen to live here make courtesy patrols on foot and she said they are considering hiring private security officers.

"I feel like if their personal property was abused and broken into, they would be up in arms about it, but since it's ours and we send our kids to college, they say ‘Mom and Dad will foot the bill for that, they're paying rent now,’" said Ricky Bottoms whose son had his car burglarized.

But police say the break-ins are common, particularly during the holidays.

"This is not really out of the ordinary," said Lt. Bob Wooldridge of the Knoxville Police Department. "This is something we'll be focusing on intensely, increasing patrols and calling awareness to folks about not leaving valuables in vehicles."

Police did make an arrest in the same part of town on Wednesday night.

Gregory Lynn Hill has been charged with three car burglaries and assault.

Lt. Wooldridge said Hill committed the crimes at the Tobacco Stop Market on Maryville Pike.

Police are not sure if Hill had any connection to the other break-ins, since he was arrested at around 7:30 PM, but they are still questioning him.


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