Suspect at large after stealing rifle, shotgun from deputy's car

Suspect at large after stealing rifle, shotgun from deputy's car

TIPTON CO., Tenn. — A criminal has a police officer’s rifle. It was stolen Monday from a Tipton County Sheriff deputy’s squad car.

The sheriff’s office said the deputy had his car locked and his guns in the vault, but the suspect used a rock to smash the front windshield out, climbed in, and then spent the next four hours dismantling the vault to steal the assault rifle and shotgun.

“The suspect is shown to periodically leave the area only to return with items used as burglary tools,” said Chief Billy Daugherty.

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It’s unclear if the suspect was getting the tools from a nearby home or car, but police recovered the deputy’s shotgun in some nearby woods just hours after the theft.

“It’s terrifying because not even the people that are supposed to protect us can protect their own assets,” said Caitlyn, who lives in Covington.

People in the community are unnerved by the recent news, but also other break-ins in Convington.

“In the month of February, we have responded to nine vehicle break-ins,” said Chief Buddy Lewis, with the Covington Police Department.

“Every one of them except the deputies car was left unlocked.”

“It makes me feel very unsafe. It makes me want to arm myself even more,” said Caitlyn.

Covington police have arrested two teens, but police don’t think they are responsible for stealing the rifle.

“I’m sure it is in the hands of criminals who don't need it,” said Chief Daugherty.

And to that hooded criminal…

“Whoever this suspect is, we are coming, and we are going to get the gun, and they're going to go to jail. It's that simple,” said Chief Daugherty.

The sheriff’s department is hurting in more ways than just the gun. A $4,000 dash camera surveillance system was destroyed when the suspect smashed the front windshield.

The Tipton Co. Sheriff’s Office is offering a $1,000 reward for any information that leads to the gun or the suspect.