An Out & About Newspaper reader in Chattanooga saw the story “Thief who may prey on gays hits Tenn. and Ky.” in the July issue, immediately recognized the suspect and called police.
Those quick actions lead to the arrest of James Anthony Hitchcock, 36, who was charged by Chattanooga Police with possession of stolen property.
Hitchcock stole a 2003 Nissan Altima from a 38-year-old Nashville victim, who met the suspect at an East Nashville bar, and invited him to his house on the evening of Thursday, June 1. When the victim woke up the next morning, he found the suspect had left and his vehicle was gone.
Hitchcock had left another vehicle at the victim’s house—a 2001 Monte Carlo—that had been stolen from a male victim in Sevierville, Tennessee. A third vehicle that he may have stolen in Kentucky has not yet been recovered.
Eddie Gilligan said the July issue of O&AN was delivered to Chuck’s II on West Main Street in Chattanooga on Monday, July 10.
“I saw the photo in the lower right column and asked Chuck (owner of Chuck’s Bar) if the picture was James,” Gilligan said. He said yes it was, so I read the article about him and guess what? He was at Chuck’s Saturday night. I had met him here a couple of times before and chatted with him about his son and all.”
Gilligan called the Chattanooga Police Department and spoke to detective Austin Garrett.
“I gave him all the information that you had listed in the story,” he said. “At 11 that same night Detective Garrett called me back to say that he had arrested James and recovered the Nissan he had stolen from Nashville.”
Gilligan said he was glad he saw the story and could react to prevent more potential thefts from occurring.
“I wanted to thank you for printing the article and helping get this guy off the streets,” he said.
WSMV-TV (NBC) reporter Darin Trotter also aired two stories about Hitchcock, including his arrest in Chattanooga.
Chattanooga Police found Hitchcock in possession of credit cards and other items that he may have stolen from his victims.
Nashville Metro Police Detective Billy Estes said Hitchcock will be charged by Chattanooga and Sevierville authorities. He wasn’t sure if Davidson County will charge him and was in the process of checking with the District Attorney’s office.
“We may also charge him with theft here,” Estes said. “We don’t yet. We’re working with the District Attorney’s office.”
“He apparently hits gay bars,” the Nashville victim said. “He tells a big sob story about him and his son, and says he doesn’t have a place to stay. He then robs you.”