BBQ Bandit Makes Off With Much More Than Just Hash-Browns

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The owners of a local restaurant are trying to “smoke-out” the petty thieves who have become a nuisance by breaking into their pit area twice.

The Purple Daisy Bar-B-Q restaurant in St. Elmo is apparently a popular target for early morning break-ins where they take whatever they can get their hands-on….even food. We spoke with a resident of that area who has also been a victim of the same bandits. We have pictures.

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The owners of The Purple Daisy restaurant on St. Elmo Avenue say they believe they know who has targeted their BBQ pit area. They have clear shots of them on their security camera.
The thieves stole hash-brown casserole, aluminum foil, and pretty much everything that wasn’t nailed down.

“The past two weeks someone has come and broken into our pit area, twice, and the first time, they stole some miscellaneous things such as like, charcoal, lighter fluid, a case of tomatoes, and we put locks on our gate, well this time they came, I believe it was Saturday night and they broke through that lock,” said Ashley Sumrall, at The Purple Daisy Cafe.

But, The Purple Daisy wasn’t the only place that was targeted. After they left the BBQ restaurant, they headed down the street to Jeremiah Moore’s house, where, he believes, the same person was captured on his Ring camera.

“Watched the video at about 7:30 and realized, there was a person walking around the house, looking in the windows and stuff, and then um, came out to go swimming later in the day and realized that the pool cleaner robot had been stolen,” said Jeremiah Moore.

Moore says a lot of other residents have had similar experiences. They think its the same culprits.

“Mr. Davis put a video of the lady and as soon as he posted that video, I said, well that’s the same lady in our video. And he had been hit at 3:30 in the morning, and we got hit at 5:30. And then several other neighbors have different videos, all the way up the side of the mountain there, and then down to the end of 55th street, of the same lady and the same van, just walking around the neighborhood,” said Moore.

But apparently, the St. Elmo Bandit is still not done.

“The same lady was seen three houses down at 6 o’clock yesterday evening, so they’re still walking around the neighborhood – I mean I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re walking around right now. In St. Elmo it’s known, you need to lock your doors, usually if you leave your car door unlocked, it eventually will get rifled though.”

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Ashley is a lifetime Chattanooga area resident, and a 1987 graduate from UTC, with a BA in communications. While there, he was commissioned through the ROTC program, served simultaneously in the 1/181st field artillery Tn. Army National Guard, finished Airborne school, was a member of the Scabbard and Blade military honor society and ROTC Rangers, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, played snare drum with the UTC Marching band, and played in a southern rock band called Southern Atmosphere, while working a full time job as a trainer at the Sports Barn. He also won the Southeastern United States teenage bodybuilding competition during this time. Ashley has been with News 12 Now for 21 years. Prior to working here he was a videographer, director, producer and editor at Falcon Cable TV in Dalton, Ga. for 6 years where he produced thousands of commercials and dozens of hour long features. He also worked as a freelancer and employee at another network affiliate in Chattanooga. He has operated a part time video production business from home for 25 years. He says his passion is telling stories that feature people who give of themselves to help others, and stories that inspire people to make positive changes in themselves and their communities. Ashley is ecstatically married to Debbie Henderson, and has two step sons, a daughter in law, a sister, and lots of aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews. His parents are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. Ashley and Debbie are active members of Brainerd Baptist Church. His interests include weight training and cycling with his wife, photography, poetry, playing drums, and checking off items from his extensive honey-do list. If you would like to reach Ashley, email him at ahenderson@wdef.com.