Crime in Rutherford County DOWN

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A large assortment of stolen jewelry was recovered by Detective Phil Brooks from two suspects known as the "pillowcase bandits." They are accused of stealing property from homes in Rutherford County, other Middle Tennessee counties and northern Alabama.

Serious crimes such as burglaries and robberies dropped 5.8 percent this year as compared to the same time last year in rural Rutherford County, said Sheriff Robert Arnold.

Other crimes such as vandalisms and weapons violations decreased by 7.4 percent during the same time period.

"Our patrol deputies are actively patrolling the communities to prevent home and auto burglaries and our citizens are calling us when they see suspicious activity," Sheriff Arnold said. "Our detectives have investigated these cases, arrested suspects and recovered $320,000 in stolen property."

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Aggravated assaults and thefts increased during the first half of the year.

Most of the aggravated assaults involved domestic situations and the thefts involved frauds.

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Detective Lt. Britt Reed said domestic assaults traditionally increase in the summer and during holidays.

To reduce domestic assaults, detectives work with families involved with verbal arguments to prevent future problems.

"We have found where there is verbal abuse, it may eventually lead to physical violence," Lt. Reed said. "We make sure the victims understand there are options for them before there is violence."

The Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs funds a grant for a full-time detective who investigates domestic violence, sexual assaults and dating violence. The grant allows the detective to concentrate solely on domestic violence and sexual assaults.

Rapes and robberies dropped from 9 in the first half of 2014 to 7 in the first half of 2015.

Fraud cases rose from 205 in the first six months of 2014 to 244 in 2015.

Detective Lt. Todd Sparks said frauds of debit cards, fraudulent use of credit cards and scams increased.

"That's due to technological advancements," Lt. Sparks said. "It's easier for people to get information that is stolen quickly and reused quickly."

Thieves steal credit card information by attaching skimming devices to gas pumps and ATM's that takes the information on the magnetic strips. The information is sold on the black market and used to credit a new credit card with the victim's name. The card may be used quickly to make online purchases before the victim realizes the fraud.

"It's rampant right now," Lt. Sparks said.

People should protect themselves watching for the skimming devices and by monitoring their debit and credit card accounts daily. People who are victims should report the crime to their bank or credit card company immediately.

Retailers can help prevent fraud cases.

For example, Love's Truck Stop in Christiana trained clerks to compare the credit card number on the card to the receipt. They found different numbers and alerted the Sheriff's Office whose officers arrested suspects from Cuba.

In other fraud cases, taxpayers found their identity was stolen when they filed their income tax and learned someone filed in the name and received their refund.

Lt. Sparks warned people about using money orders and buying from individuals online. In a recent case, someone bought a dog online but the buyer didn't exist so the buyer lost money.

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