Break-Ins on the Rise?

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Knoxville (WVLT) - After a violent home invasion in Blount County last week and a break in at a local car lot this week, people are asking questions about safety in their neighborhoods.

Specifically are the number of break-ins in East Tennessee on the rise?

Volunteer TV's Allison Hunt spoke with a county commissioner who is now faced with a huge financial loss after a break-in.

In just two days County Commissioner Greg Lambert lost over $20,000 in property stolen from his car lot.

He says this isn't the first time, but law enforcement says the number of break-ins are actually down.

Three cars, three computers and other electronic equipment stolen from county commissioner Greg Lambert add up to a tremendous financial loss. "If these cars aren't recovered, and the computers aren't recovered, I'll spend the next 7 months earning enough money to recover from this loss."

The suspects broke into the building on the lot through the air conditioning unit, ransacked the office and found the car keys.

Although this is the worst break-in his business has faced, it's not the first.

"Typically every other year I'll have a loss of over $2,500, on the other years I'll have a loss of under $1,000," Lambert says.

But the Knoxville Police Department says the number of break-ins is decreasing.

The KPD says they're down 7 percent in the last year. In 2005, there were 2,486 break-ins city-wide. In 2006, there were 2,308.

And between January 1st to March 25th of this year, there were 496. Down 5 percent from the previous year.

(Darrell DeBusk, KPD)"Communities. They get involved, the neighborhood watch groups, they watch after their neighbors, they see something suspicious, they alert authorities," says KPD spokesman Darrell DeBusk.

The Sheriff's Department says break-ins are down in the county too.

In 2005 there were 1,583 break-ins, and in 2006 there were 1,424.

If you think you're hearing about them more, Darrell DeBusk with the Knoxville police department says you may be right.

He says the media often hear certain 'buzzwords', like 'home invasion', and jump on the story.

"When you really do the investigation you determine that well, these people knew each other, they knew there was money and or drugs or some other type of activity going on there," DeBusk says.

And that's what Lambert thinks. "A lot of folks out there with drug addictions that's driving them to commit crimes to feed their habits and it seems like criminals are getting bolder."

Lambert says he does not have insurance for his car lot, because it's extremely expensive.

He says he will be looking at other security options.

The Knoxville Police Department says neighborhood watch groups are extremely valuable when it comes to fighting crime in communities.

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