Law enforcement warns shoplifters, offers tips for shoppers

Law enforcement warns shoplifters, offers tips ahead of holiday shopping season

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"When you have some dirt bag that comes in and steals from them, it just ruins the whole thing," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. "When you have some dirt bag that comes in and steals from them, it just ruins the whole thing," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.
Last year the Safer Holidays Task Force made 125 arrests and recovered nearly $60,000 in stolen property. Last year the Safer Holidays Task Force made 125 arrests and recovered nearly $60,000 in stolen property.
"Beware," said Knox County Chief Deputy Eddie Biggs. "We'll give them a chance not to come. If they come still, we will try to catch them." "Beware," said Knox County Chief Deputy Eddie Biggs. "We'll give them a chance not to come. If they come still, we will try to catch them."

By DREW GARDNER
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The holiday season always brings out big crowds of shoppers and big sales, but with the good comes the bad. There's also more shoplifting and thefts.

That loss in sales can sometimes be detrimental for some small businesses.

"Most of them rely on the holiday season for being the time they either make or break," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. "When you have some dirt bag that comes in and steals from them, it just ruins the whole thing."

In 2011, the Knox County Sheriff's Office launched its first ever Safer Holidays Task Force to help combat those criminals.

It made 125 arrests and recovered nearly $60,000 in stolen property. The idea behind the task force is to not waste time writing tickets, but instead make immediate arrests.

"Beware," said Chief Deputy Eddie Biggs. "We'll give them a chance not to come. If they come still, we will try to catch them."

While more officers and patrols will be out looking for thieves, law enforcement warns shoppers to take precautions themselves.

"It deals with personal responsibility," said Mayor Burchett. "Don't flash a lot of cash. Have your keys ready when you get to your cars. If you have small children, keep them close to you. Know the people around you, and know your surroundings."

"We don't want to make people so paranoid that they can't go into a shopping center," said Deputy Robert Hubbs. "We want people to think about how crimes occur."

Deputies said if more people think about how those crimes occur this holiday season, then more crimes will be prevented.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office also gave these tips for staying safe during holiday shopping:

  • Keep all vehicle doors locked while in or out of your car. Set your alarm.
  • Avoid driving alone or at night.
  • If you must shop at night, park in a well lit area.
  • Avoid parking next to vans or cars with tinted windows.
  • Remember where you parked.
  • Do not leave valuables or packages in plain view in your car. Lock them in the trunk or put them out of sight.
  • Have your keys ready when returning to your car.
  • Keep a secure hold on your purse and packages.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not approach your car alone if anyone seems suspicious in the area.
  • Ask store security for an escort to your vehicle.
  • Dress comfortably and avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
  • Pay for purchases with a credit card or check instead of carrying large amounts of cash.
  • Keep your cash in your front pocket.
  • Keep a record of all your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
  • Always be more careful, prepared and aware during the holiday season.
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