At about 1 p.m. on Sept. 11, a woman returned to her car in the parking lot of Starbucks, 1860 North Eastman Road. She found a window shattered and her purse stolen. Among the items in her purse were several credit cards and a Ruger .380 caliber pistol. Kingsport police say a stolen card was soon used to make a $500 purchase at the Memorial Court Walgreens.
Over the course of the next few hours, four more smash-and-grab auto burglaries occurred, according to police, with a victim's purse stolen in each of the incidents. The vehicles had been parked at the KFC on Fort Henry Drive, Indian Highland Park on East Center Street, YMCA on the Meadowview Parkway and the Great Body Company on Memorial Boulevard.
Cards contained in the stolen purses were later used at various businesses. Police say one victim's purse also contained $1,600 cash.
On Thursday, the KPD released video surveillance images of suspects in the cases. Anyone with information is asked to call police at (423)229-9429 or (423) 246-9111.
"While this crime is often a crime of opportunity, in these particular cases it is clear that the suspects were trolling parking lots specifically looking for purses left in plain sight in vehicles," reads a KPD press release. "Citizens are strongly encouraged to NEVER leave their vehicles unlocked and NEVER leave items of value in their vehicles, especially not in plain sight. And firearms should NEVER be left unsecured in a motor vehicle."