Raceway Campers Watch Out for Thieves

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August 22, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Click here to watch a video, courtesy of WCYB-TV, Bristol, Va., about the following story.

Race week is here in Bristol, Va., and the campgrounds at Bristol Motor Speedway are quickly becoming the home-away-from-home for thousands of out of town fans. But with all those people in a small area, police say there's the potential for trouble.

When August race week rolls around, it's like a big family reunion for Rebekah Tipton and her friends. This is the fourth year Tipton is camping outside of Bristol Motor Speedway and she said she doesn't worry about theft. But Bristol Tennessee Police said it's still a concern, "We do usually answer several calls on campgrounds. People will break into campers, burglarize a camper just like a house," said Captain Charlie Thomas with Bristol PD.

Police said the biggest target for thieves is racing souvenirs. But they're also looking for the same things in RVs as they do in homes, cash, jewelery, and small electronics. For Tipton she stows away expensive items, "We leave phones, purses, laptops, things like that locked away in the truck when we're not in the camper."

On Earhart Campground, employees say there will be several thousand RVs and with all those campers, there needs to be guidelines. So as campers pull in, they're handed a pamphlet with rules. Owner Charlie Earhart said, "Our philosophy has always been if you can stop a problem before it starts you're ahead of the game."

Just like police, Earhart has his employees patrol the campgrounds. But as the number of campers increase throughout the week, so does the number of people Earhart has out making sure everyone is safe. Earhart says there aren't any big problems simply because campers are a tight knit group. Camper Peggy Ammons said, "You just become a big family and you take care of each other and watch out for each other's things."

And that's exactly what police believe is the biggest defense in lowering theft. Captain Charlie Thomas said to have the number of people in such a concentrated area, there's not a major crime problem.

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