LOCK IT: Hamilton Co. Sheriff's deputies warn public about spike in car break-ins, thefts

Items stolen.

UPDATE: Sherry updated us and has said the blue Nissan Versa has been recovered.


The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office is sending out a warning to the public about a recent rise in thefts from cars and car thefts.

Sheriff Jim Hammond says they have seen 32 car break-ins and over 13 car thefts in the last two weeks.

Sheriff Hammond says some of those could have easily been avoided had the victims locked their car doors.

One Hixson woman says she fell victim after not doing so.

"Monday evening of last week, my daughter had actually gotten into my vehicle late that night," says Sherry Vaenzula.

Sherry says her daughter doesn't remember locking the doors, and later that night someone broke in.

"So the next day, when I was getting ready to go to work I had some lunch bags, some makeup bags that were gone," says Sherry.

Someone had stolen two bags from her car, along with the keys to her daughter's car.

Days later, the thieves returned and used those keys to take this Blue Nissan Versa.

The Chattanooga Police Department reported over 2,000 thefts from cars this year. Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond says this spike is unusual.

"What is really significant about these break-ins is that these are crimes of opportunity. Folks are just leaving their cars unlocked," says Sheriff Hammond.

Hammond says things like digital cameras, laptops, and firearms are being taken.

As a victim to this crime, Sherry says it's something she will do from now on.

"Make sure you lock your cars, even if you feel like you neighborhood is safe," says Sherry.

Sherry says thanks to NewsChannel 9's report, she found her car.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office says if you see or hear anything suspicious, call 911.

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