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Fiery Kingsport crash underscores warnings on auto thefts

Rain Smith • Feb 9, 2019 at 11:28 AM

KINGSPORT — Police are continuing to investigate the theft of two trucks that were later crashed — one of which burst into flames after flipping on Lewis Lane — while also reiterating common sense steps to combat auto theft.

With Friday’s stolen 2002 Dodge 1500 and 2004 Ford Sport Trac, the city of Kingsport has already seen approximately 40 vehicle thefts in 2019. The latest case follows the same trend of nearly all the others: The victims left their automobiles unlocked with the keys inside.

The two trucks were taken from a residence on Moccasin Street, located off West Carters Valley Road. According to Kingsport police, one vehicle belonged to the resident, while the other was owned by a friend. One of the unlocked trucks also contained an assortment of hand and power tools.

The Ford was located later Friday morning by the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office. It was reportedly found abandoned in the Carters Valley community, where it had been crashed and came to rest on its top.

On Friday evening, the owner of the Dodge was in a vehicle on Stone Drive when he spotted his stolen truck. A pursuit between the victim and suspects ensued onto Lewis Lane, where the Dodge hit a guardrail and flipped.

Two suspects then exited the vehicle and ran, according to police, and the truck erupted into flames. The vehicle was soon engulfed in fire, which scorched utility lines overhead, causing a power outage in the area.

Late Saturday morning, police were still investigating the case. No suspects had been apprehended.

Thursday’s edition of the Times News reported on the surge of vehicle thefts in Kingsport and Sullivan County. More than 300 cases were reported in the city over the course of 2018, while the county saw nearly 200. The two jurisdictions also combined for 666 auto burglaries.

Police report that in the vast majority of thefts, victims left their vehicles unlocked. Meanwhile, most auto burglaries were believed to have been spurred by people leaving valuables in plain sight.

To keep from making yourself an easy target, police stress that your vehicle should never be left unlocked when unattended — and especially don’t leave the key inside.

And when you are away from your vehicle, place valuables under the seat or in the trunk, out of sight of potential thieves.

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