Body shops and car dealerships in the northeast part of Meridian have been plagued over the last couple of weeks by a series of vehicle break-ins.

Lt. Dean Harper, a police spokesman, said the Meridian Police Department is investigating the situation.

Meanwhile, businessmen like Randy Harrison, owner of Randy Harrison’s Custom Paint, Frame and Body Shop on Highway 39 North are taking losses.

“I have had 10 to 12 car windows broken, along with several other car dealers and body shops in the area,” Harrison said.

He said most of the cars that have been damaged belong to customers who have brought them in for work or repairs. The suspect or suspects, Harrison said, are not stealing stereo equipment — but prescription drugs, change, jewelry, credit cards and loose valuables.

Harrison has insurance that covers the cars at his shop, but the deductible is $500 per incident and each vehicle is treated separately.

“The damages to the cars are not enough to meet the insurance deductible; therefore, I am having to pay the bill for the damage out of my own pocket,” Harrison said. “Each car’s damage is only about $300 to $400.”

According to Harrison, other dealerships are suffering as well. The list of businesses that have been hit in the past two weeks includes, he said, Dickerson Auto Sales, Rick Justice Chrysler Jeep, Johnson Dodge, Bowers Auto and Sunbelt Motors.

Most are encountering the same problem Harrison is, and car dealerships have even higher deductibles.

“I talked to the owner of Sunbelt Motors and he has had 15 cars broken into over the two-week span,” Harrison said.

Only once, Harrison said, during the first break-in at his shop, has a vehicle been stolen — a 15-passenger van recovered by the MPD within four hours. It was found at Magnolia Middle School on 24th Street.

Two weeks later, the list of break-ins is getting longer.

Harrison doubts that Meridian police have the manpower for a stakeout, but has considered one of his own: “I was going to spend the night at my shop on Sunday, but after they hit me Saturday night, I figured they would not hit it again the next night.”

Surveillance cameras are in use at some of the affected businesses, giving owners a partial description of the suspect.

According to Harrison, the suspect who hit his shop is a light-complected black man in his late teens or early 20s, about 6 feet tall, with a small to medium build. He probably has a deep cut on his arm or leg.

“After comparing the cases with the others dealers and owners, it seems as though he is hitting my shop first,” Harrison said. “He wiped his prints off my cars with a towel and officials found blood in another dealer’s car and the towel in another’s car.”

While police officials have limited their comments about this series of crimes, the MPD has asked the public for information about a suspect who may have suffered lacerations. This brief appeared in the Friday edition of The Meridian Star:

“The Meridian Police Department is asking for the public’s help to locate a suspect in crimes that occurred Wednesday night.

“‘We are investigating several auto burglaries that happened at local businesses,” said Lt. Dean Harper, a police spokesman.

“‘One of the suspects who committed some of these crimes suffered a deep laceration to one of his arms. We are asking the public to contact us with any information they have, if they know of someone who has suffered a deep cut on an arm since about midnight’ on Wednesday.”

Residents with information are asked to call CrimeStoppers at (601) 527-8706.

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