Evidence Room Heist

By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief
By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief

Morristown, Hamblen County (WVLT) - Morristown Police are investigating how more than $10,000 worth of items at a TWRA evidence locker were stolen over the weekend.

Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb takes a look at how this might affect area criminal cases.

The thieves made off primarily with weapons and conservation officers are continuing to see if confiscated drugs were also taken.

Needless to say, without some evidence, it could prove to be a problem for officers and prosecutors in making their case at trial.

A Morristown police report says it was Sunday afternoon when two officers found evidence from a storage facility stolen.

"Some of the items may be firearms and bows. Those type items that we use as evidence," says TWRA District Supervisor Tim Sain.

Evidence totaling more than ten thousand dollars. The report says the two officers found part of the chain link fence cut, a storage door open, and the evidence gone. But the stolen amount may go higher as officers arrived on Monday.

"We're currently inventorying every item that we have. We've had several items that are missing and once we complete our inventory we'll know exactly what is missing," Sain says.

"Oh, it's definitely a concern," District Attorney General Berkley Bell says.

Prosecutors are concerned about the strength of their case against defendants with evidence missing. The district attorney general says he hopes pictures and serial numbers concerning the weapons were kept if he has to prosecute the case.

"That usually works well with guns, bows, money, things like that when you can see clearly what the item is and the identifying information on the item," says Bell.

But as police continue their investigation, the report says the officers at the time were not sure if drugs were also taken. That, Bell says, is more difficult to prosecute.

"I have not been successful in the past simply relying on photographs when it comes to drugs," says Bell.

Bell says these are just his general concerns and cannot speak on individual cases without the information.

He says from here they will have to deal with each charge on a case by case basis as they come to court.


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