South Knoxville restaurant accused of serving stolen meat to customers

WATE 6 On Your Side Staff - KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - A South Knoxville restaurant is accused of buying stolen meat from drug addicts and serving it to its customers. 

The Knox County Sheriff's Office says the owner of Round Up Restaurant, Sam Tobea, 57, was arrested and charged with felony theft after a warrant was served at the restaurant, located at 3643 Sevierville Pike, on Wednesday afternoon around 2 p.m.

Deputies say the investigation began after two people were arrested in August for shoplifting meat from an area grocery store. They admitted to officers they were stealing and selling meat to Round Up and agreed to assist in the investigation.

Undercover officers sold meat they said was stolen to Tobea, some of which was recovered Wednesday afternoon. Deputies say the investigation revealed it's not uncommon for the stolen meat to stay in a shoplifter's vehicle for up to a day before it was sold to the restaurant.

"We would like to thank our partners in the retail industry for their ongoing cooperation with the Sheriff's Office in our attempt to combat thefts in their stores that perpetuate the opioid crisis. We know there is a direct correlation between these types of crimes and the drug epidemic that we are facing, and we feel that operations like this are necessary to combat drug use in our community," said KCSO Chief Lee Tramel.

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