Ricky and Brenda Combs, of 2240 Kingdom Road, have been charged with breaking into homes between Jan. 3 and Jan. 28.The husband and wife pair are former Kingsport residents who moved away about two years ago, according to Kingsport Police Department.
Ricky Combs said his wife would drop him off outside a darkened home, and he'd get inside and go straight to the master bedroom, Kingsport Police Department Detective Corporal Frank Light said at a press conference Thursday. Combs said he'd stuff whatever valuables he could find into a pillowcase and leave. Sometimes, he said he'd then go to a neighbor's house and do it again, Light said.At one home, more than $60,000 worth of jewelry was stolen, police said. CLICK THE BOX BELOW for video from a Thursday morning press conference.
Four of the 10 burglaries in the city involved neighbors on Forest Ridge and Alderwood. Other homes were hit on Watauga Avenue, Tallwood Drive, New Beason Well Road, Heritage Lane, Merrywood Avenue and Ashfield Drive, according to police. The couple also allegedly targeted at least three homes in the county, according to police.
Their stash of stolen goods was discovered when Kingsport vice officers went to their room at the Stradford Inn on East Stone Drive to speak with them before seizing their car as part of a prescription fraud investigation.
After receiving consent to enter the room, police discovered a large amount of gold jewelry. Detectives were called to the scene and determined that much of the Combs' stash matched the description of items recently reported stolen.
Police said the pair told them they were addicted to Oxycontin, and that they'd committed the burglaries to supported their habit.
The pair were each charged with 10 counts of aggravated burglary and eight counts of theft over $1,000. As of noon Thursday, Ricky Combs remained in the Kingsport city jail. Brenda Combs, who was transferred to Sullivan County Wednesday evening, has been charged there with one additional count of aggravated burglary and two counts of theft over $500.
Victims of the burglaries are being contacted by police and asked to come view the recovered jewelry for possible identification. Also, police are encouraging anyone whose home has been burglarized to report the crime, as some of the jewelry may be from burglaries that haven't even been reported yet.
According to Chief Gale Osborne, these burglaries occurred most commonly between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. The homes they struck were "targets of opportunity," he said. Both Osborne and Sullivan County Sheriff Wayne Anderson encouraged homeowners to work together to be harder targets for such crimes.
Neighborhood watch programs, or even just the presence of the stereotypical 'nosy neighbor' can help deter would-be burglars, they said. Other tips police offered included hiding valuables and keeping them under lock and key.