Johnson County vehicles targeted by thieves

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

JOHNSON COUNTY (Nov. 9, 2015) - Johnson County authorities are investigating another rash of theft and attempted thefts from vehicles, prompting another warning about keeping car doors locked when leaving them parked outside.

Four homeowners in the 4600 to 4800 block of Rocklane Road discovered their cars had been rifled through between Thursday night and Friday morning. In some cases, multiple vehicles on each property had been looked through, with items left thrown about. In each case, the vehicle doors had been left unlocked by the victim. Police reports indicate the only items stolen were a denim jacket and a flashlight. One neighbor said they later discovered a pocket knife was missing from their car.

In each case, the victim had left their vehicles unlocked.

“We need people to lock their vehicles,” said Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox. “We need people to take their valuables out of their vehicles and put those valuables inside the home with them during evening hours.”

Cox and his department have had a busy few months, investigating a drastic increase in thefts from vehicles and home burglaries.

“It has exploded,” Cox said.

But the most recent rash of theft and attempted theft appears to be different than prior cases involving organized groups looking for guns and money to steal from cars in tightly packed housing editions.

“This is in the northeast part of Johnson County in the Rocklane area, where the homes are not right on top of each other,” Cox said. “So this could be thieves different from what we’re used to seeing.”

Floyd Coppage, who found his Cadillac and Buick rifled through Friday morning, says he never used to lock his cars while leaving them parked in his driveway. But he will now.

“My phone charger and everything was still laying there,” Coppage said. “And then my GPS was in the box, they opened it up but they didn’t take it.  I don’t know what they’re looking for, if they’re looking for drugs or money or what.”

Another victim down the street said a bottle of prescription medicine was left in the glove box of his truck.

But the suspect or suspects may have left behind the clue investigators need to track them down. When they stole the flashlight from one of the cars, they also left their own flashlight behind.

“We appreciate it when they do stupid things like this,” Cox said. “We’ll not only fingerprint the flashlight, the outside, but we’ll fingerprint the batteries that are inside the flashlight, hoping that whoever the thief is is the one that put the batteries in the flashlight.”

However the case ends up, Cox hopes more residents will heed the warning that nobody should assume their neighborhood is immune to crime. Even he and members of his department avoid parking department vehicles outside these days.

“A lot of us carry assault rifles, we carry other things in our vehicle, spare guns, backup guns,” Cox said. “And unfortunately we know that and so do the thieves that are out here. So what we require of our officers here is if they have an assault rifle, if they have spare guns, is to take those weapons into their homes during the evening hours so those weapons should not even be in a parked Johnson County vehicle.”