Gangs Targeting Unlocked Vehicles On Lookout Mountain; Ochs Extension May Be Closed Extended Time For Stabilization Work

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - by Gail Perry

“In nine out of 12 commission meetings, we talk about locking cars and taking the keys,” said Commissioner of Fire and Police Jim Bentley, at the September commission meeting.  As much as it has publicized, residents of Lookout Mountain, Tn. have not been following the advice. After yet another round of car break-ins last week, the message was repeated at the September commission meeting.

 

This time a surveillance camera clearly captured the image of a car stopping in the very early morning hours.

Four individuals with flashlights exited from what turned out to be a stolen car and immediately headed down different streets looking for vehicles that were unlocked. The thieves do not break into cars and, if the doors are locked, the car is passed by, said the commissioner. If it is unlocked, anything of value is taken. If keys are found in the car, the vehicle is taken.

 

This has been identified as gang activity and most of the individuals participating are juveniles. The Lookout Mountain, Tn. Police have intensified efforts to stop the break-ins and have had some success, said Commissioner Bennett. One person who was caught told police that this area is targeted because of the belief that keys are commonly left inside cars, which makes them easily accessible.

 

Again, the request from the police department is for residents to lock vehicles, remove keys and call the LMPD if they see any suspicious vehicles or persons in the area. Chief Chuck Wells would like for anyone who notices unusual activity on a home surveillance video or people with flashlights on the streets at night to call the police. "Those are our favorite type of calls," he said. "We want to put a stop to it."

 

There is increased foot and vehicle traffic recently, with many children walking to school and increased traffic that is being rerouted up Ochs Highway to Fleetwood and Scenic Highway while GDOT  is doing a geological survey to determine the best way to stabilize land near the top of Ochs Highway Extension in Georgia. The Tennessee police are actively monitoring cars for speeding around the detour and the school. The commissioner expects it will be after the first of 2022 before work begins on a permanent fix and the Ochs Extension may be closed for an extended period of time. It is hoped that the city of Chattanooga, which owns and maintains Ochs Highway, will repave the portion leading to Fleetwood so there will be a good and safe detour.

 

Parks and Playgrounds Commissioner David Paschall said that soccer season is underway. Each age group has played four games so far. Tournaments are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 2, with some championship games set for evenings of the following week. 

 

Flag football will also begin the first full week of October. The number of children participating typically range from 68-80. Last year there were 80 playing that made up eight teams. This year there are 68 signed up to play, which will be divided into seven teams.

 

 The Commons is still being used for birthday parties but less frequently in recent weeks compared to past years due to concerns about gatherings and COVID.

 

In the absence of Commissioner of Schools Brooke Pippenger, Mayor Walker Jones reported that plans are to have the LMS Carnival on Tuesday, Oct. 5, with a rain date of Oct. 6. He is hoping that money raised this year can somewhat make up for last year when all fundraising events were cancelled.

 

The season for clearing and picking up brush is winding down, said Commissioner of the Public Works Department Frank Schriner. The department is now fixing the last remaining pot holes, he said, and preparing the leaf machines. Getting them in good working condition now, before they are needed, will  ensure the machines will be ready when the leaves start falling, said the commissioner. This year no street striping will be done, however new reflectors will be installed to mark the roads.

 

Mayor Jones said there have been a few COVID cases in the town’s employees and he is hopeful that "we are now on the back side of it." Those who have been well have been doing a lot of extra work to keep the town running, and he said that the efforts have really been appreciated.

 

The next meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Tn. Commission will be on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 5:30 p.m.


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