About 6 p.m. Tuesday, a citizen spotted a suspicious vehicle at the new First Utility District complex on West Main Boulevard and reported it to the utility district.
An on-duty employee arrived at the scene as the suspect, Jeremy Mikel Webb, 27, 221 Silver Lake Road, Apt. 3, Church Hill, was leaving, and the employee followed Webb.
Church Hill Police Chief Mark Johnson said the First Utility District employee was in contact with Hawkins County Central Dispatch as he was following Webb, and by the time they arrived at a residence on Hoard Lane just outside the city limits, the police were arriving as well.
“In his vehicle we found multiple stolen items from the water department as well as other previous (burglary) locations,” Johnson said. “At that residence on Hoard Lane our officers observed in plain view large mounts of other items suspected to be stolen. We seized lots of stolen property last night from the vehicle and Hoard Lane (residence).”
Johnson added, “Detective (Dustin) Dean is working the case, in the process of seizing the vehicle and getting all the warrants matched up to our previous burglary reports. We’re trying to get the property we’ve recovered back to the rightful owners.”
Johnson said Webb is suspected in at least 12 local burglaries including 10 yard barns or outbuildings and two auto burglaries. He was driving on a suspended license at the time of his arrest, Johnson said.
Webb is also suspected in several Hawkins County burglaries, and charges are pending from the sheriff’s office as well.
An unspecified number of people associated with the Hoard Lane residence where Webb was arrested are also being investigated related to these burglaries, and charges are pending, said Johnson.
Webb remained lodged in the Hawkins County Jail without bond Wednesday night charged with three counts of burglary and theft over $1,000, with more charges yet to be filed.
Johnson said the burglary spree, which initially focused on the Silver Lake Road and South Central Avenue neighborhood, lasted for about a month. He added that Webb’s arrest demonstrates what can happen when the community cooperates with police.
“Even though this citizen didn’t call the police, ultimately the police were called, and it led to the arrest of at least one of the guys who has been burglarizing places all over Church Hill,” Johnson said. “We encourage the public to keep doing that when they see anything suspicious.”