Last updated on Aug. 5 at 5:35 p.m.
Multiple agencies are investigating after law enforcement vehicles were broken into across Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties.
At least two Hickory police vehicles were involved.
Hickory Police Chief Thurman Whisnant would not comment on what items were stolen, if any from the vehicles, stating: “This might hurt us in the investigation.”
However, Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office Capt. A. Barlowe told WSOC-TV on Monday that a Hickory police vehicle parked in Caldwell County was broken into over the weekend. A Barnes Precision Machine rifle, a shirt and pants with the Hickory Police Department insignia, a bulletproof vest, a drone, ammunition in the weapon, and hearing protection were stolen.
Another Hickory patrol car had four AR-15 magazines stolen out of it, according to an Aug. 3 incident report from the Long View Police Department.
Thurman Whisnant did note he is hopeful the situation will be resolved soon, so all the details can be shared.
“This is an important case to us and we do not want to hinder the SBI,” he said.
Burke County also had a patrol vehicle targeted, but the thief wasn’t able to steal anything, said Sheriff Steve Whisenant.
“We had sent out an email when we started hearing about these to [the deputies to] make sure you secure your equipment,” Steve Whisenant told reporters Monday afternoon. “The marked patrol car the sheriff’s office had broken into, that officer had indeed taken all of his equipment into his home so there was nothing stolen out of Burke County.”
He said the break-ins were brazen.
“It’s very brazen for somebody to go to an officer’s house and break into a window with a rock or whatever they may use, a hammer, and … knowing that there’s an officer inside that residence that has some guns, and most officers multiple guns” Steve Whisenant added.
Whisenant said it’s typical for deputies to leave their weapons in their cars.
“Most of them keep their items in their car,” Steve Whisenant said. “We have gun secured devices that we can keep our guns secured into the cars. I don’t think anybody has had a long gun stolen from one of those devices.”
While police don’t know the intent behind the theft, Steve Whisenant said it’s concerning.
“Well obviously that’s somebody that’s pretty brazen in marked patrol cars, and it gives us some concern that what their intentions are, especially if they’re getting ballistic carriers, body vests that have police IDs on them,” Steve Whisenant said.
He said the sheriff’s office is working with the other police departments impacted, the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation and federal authorities to investigate the matter.
“We’re taking this very seriously,” Steve Whisenant said. “I would encourage any citizen that knows anything, nobody wants criminals out here posing as law enforcement officers. So I would hope anybody would be willing to share any information that they have to help us apprehend these people.”
A Monday afternoon press release from the Burke County Sheriff's Office revealed two of their law enforcement vehicles were broken into, one on Friday and one on Saturday, but no items were stolen.
The release also states that a volunteer firefighter's vehicle was broken into on July 30 and two firearms were stolen.
Editor Eric Millsaps contributed to this report.