Recent theft and vehicle fire is 10th since April

11:10 PM, Jun 14, 2013   |    comments
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(WBIR-Knoxville) It took less than two minutes for a crook to back a stolen van up to a convenience store, smash the front window with a sledgehammer, put a chain around the ATM, and drag it away.

"It took him three tries but he got the ATM in the back of the van and it only took the guy maybe like a minute to a minute and a half to do all this," said Martha, a Thrifty Store employee who asked we not reveal her last name.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office released the surveillance video on Friday, from the theft at the Thrifty Center on Chapman Highway. The van was stolen on June 7 from the Mount Olive Baptist Church.

"All I know is that I closed the store the previous night and I was to reopen the store the next morning at 5 a.m. When I got here the owner was here cleaning up glass. He had been here since 1:30 in the morning," recalled Tammy Rush, a Thrifty Center employee.

It was the latest in a string of cases where a vehicle is stolen, sometimes used in a crime, then abandoned and burned.  All the cars were taken in Knoxville or Knox County and recovered here or in Sevier County.

The first incident was reported April 23 when a pick-up truck was stolen from an address on Chapman Highway and found later that day burned out on Burnett Creek Road.

In all, ten vehicles have been stolen and then found burned either that day or the next day. The van used in the ATM theft was found burned the next day on Rays Gap Road.

"The ATM was bolted to the floor. You can see the holes in the floor," Rush said.

She went on to say, "It's scary. It's scary."

The owner of the ATM is offering a $500 reward for anyone with information regarding the theft.

Anyone with information is urged to call the KCSO at 865-215-2243. The Tennessee Division of Fire Prevention is also offering a reward through the Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017.

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