MOUNT JULIET, TN (WSMV) - A rash of car burglaries have prompted a warning from Mount Juliet Police – be sure to lock your cars at night.

The burglaries are occurring in the middle of the night. While you’re fast asleep, thieves are busy looking for one thing – unlocked cars.

An overnight crime spree on Monday was caught on home surveillance cameras in the Willoughby Station subdivision. Video showed four guys tugging on car handles. Locked cars are passed over.

The thieves appear to work in teams.

“A vehicle is stolen somewhere, driven to our community, a group of people get out of the stolen car and try to find other things to steal,” said Mount Juliet Police Lt. Tyler Chandler. “They get out in neighborhoods and check car door handles.”

Nine cars were broken into while three others were stolen in just one night.

One person was caught after he crashed a stolen car in a police pursuit. Three other people are still on the run.

“During the morning hours when this is happening, our officers are out canvassing the neighborhoods,” said Chandler. “But we only have so many officers. We rely on the public to be the eyes of the force.”

Willoughby Station is a tempting target with so many cars sitting in driveways, many of them unlocked.

“If they try to break a window, they will bring more attention to themselves,” said Chandler. “They don’t want to do that. They know they’re going to find some unlocked cars.”

Police said too many people don’t lock their cars before settling in for the night.

Mount Juliet plans to add license recognition cameras at the main entrances to the city.

Police said criminals are coming in from other areas in stolen cars to commit more crimes.

“We’re looking for about 40 different locations where we can install a camera system that will detect stolen vehicles as they enter the city,” said Chandler.

Mount Juliet would join other cities like Belle Meade and Hendersonville with the camera system.

These extra set of eyes will help let an officer know when and where potential trouble arrives.

“It’s going to alert our officers in the field,” said Chandler. “They’ll know when the crossed the camera location, what type of vehicle they are looking for, pictures of the vehicle, so the officer can go to the area.”

Mount Police plan to go one step further, allowing neighborhoods to tap into the system for an extra set of eyes.

“We hope that once we have a system in place, neighborhoods can also buy in the system, putting a camera in their own neighborhood,” said Chandler.

Police said most of the crime is committed overnight. The peak hour is 3 a.m.

These cameras will lead officers where the criminals are going.

It’s been almost one year since Belle Meade installed its license plate recognition cameras.

Police said the technology has mostly helped solve crimes in surrounding areas.

In January, the cameras helped track down two men wanted for violence crimes in three different counties, including robbing several people at gunpoint.

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Anchor/Reporter

Alan Frio is the anchor of News4's evening newscasts on Saturdays and Sundays.

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