A rash of auto burglaries is plaguing Smith County, and sheriff's officials are asking for the public's help in identifying and catching the thieves.
Lt. Gary Middleton, Smith County Sheriff's public information officer, said burglars have hit various areas of the county hard in recent weeks, with the latest burglaries happening over the weekend.
But Middleton said it appears burglaries that occurred Sunday on Interstate 20 were not related to those in the Flint area last week.
Middleton said the burglaries on the Interstate happened at a truck stop at Farm-to-Market 14 and were of the smash-and-grab type.
"In those cases, the burglars smashed the windows of cars while the occupants were inside. But there were only two vehicles broken into, even though there are multiple victims. One of the vehicles was a church van," he said.
Middleton said the burglaries in the Flint area last Wednesday showed no signs of forced entry, meaning the victims either left their vehicles unlocked, or the burglars used a tool to open the doors to gain entry.
"If they know what they are doing and have the proper tools, it would appear the doors were left unlocked," he said.
Middleton said in many of the cases, the items taken were electronics, guns and other valuables.
"You should always lock your vehicle when leaving it unattended, and you should always move valuables out of the line of sight to discourage a thief," he said.
Middleton said anyone with information in the burglaries is asked to contact the Smith County Sheriff's Office at 903-566-6600 or the Tyler/Smith County Crimestoppers.