Stolen purses

WILSON COUNTY, TN (WSMV) – Over 100 purses linked to "smash and grab" crimes were found inside a Wilson County man's home.

Deputies began noticing a spike in vehicle burglaries throughout Wilson County involving the “smash and grab” technique, where the thief breaks the car’s window in order to break in. After sharing information, detectives throughout the Mid-State began to link information about the methods surrounding the crimes and determined they happened in multiple jurisdictions.

Almost all of them also happened at public boat ramps and/or public parks.

The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office began a collaborative effort with investigators in Davidson, Smith, Dekalb, Williamson, Putname and Rutherford counties. After gathering more information from all jurisdictions, detectives identified Michael Ballinger of Wilson County as the suspect.

Detectives executed a search warrant for Ballinger’s home and found over 100 purses that appear to have been stolen. Several victims of Ballinger’s crimes have been identified, although many items have not been linked to a specific case.

Detectives now want to know if you have been a victim of a vehicle burglary, particularly at boat ramps or public parks involving your window being broken. If so, you should contact the proper law enforcement agency where the crime happened.

Detectives will provide a detailed inventory of each recovered item to victims that have a verified theft.

Stolen purses
Stolen purses

“This investigation is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when law enforcement agencies come together and share information,” stated Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan. “This investigation was well executed, and I would like to thank all of the agencies involved for their welcomed assistance. Detective Bryan McDonald spent countless number of hours on this case pursuing the suspect who victimized so many people. Due to the overwhelming amount of items discovered at Mr. Ballinger’s residence, we are still looking to link many of those to victims who have not been identified yet. We will be working together to get those stolen items back to the original owners.” is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

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WSMV Digital Content Producer

A New York City native and a graduate of the Mizzou School of Journalism, Ethan joined the WSMV Digital Team in June 2019. Send him story ideas, food recommendations and sports topics to and follow him on Twitter @EthanIllers_TV!

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