Sevierville police officers cracking down on shoplifters

Sevierville police officers cracking down on shoplifters

Posted:
The start of another busy season full of tourist shoppers also brings several shoplifters. The start of another busy season full of tourist shoppers also brings several shoplifters.
As soon as an officer responds to a crime, they send out an alert about it to all the other businesses. As soon as an officer responds to a crime, they send out an alert about it to all the other businesses.
"Their response time is great," mall worker Steven Raden said. "If something happens, we give them a description and the criminals don't get to leave the mall." "Their response time is great," mall worker Steven Raden said. "If something happens, we give them a description and the criminals don't get to leave the mall."
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By MONA NAIR
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SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – Police in Sevierville are partnering with retailers to crack down on shoplifters.

In January, the Sevierville Police Department formed a team called ALERT, or Area Law Enforcement and Retailer Team. They focused on Tanger Outlets on the Parkway and Governor's Crossing Mall on Collier Drive.

As soon as an officer responds to a crime, an alert is sent to all the other businesses.

The start of another busy season full of tourist shoppers also brings several shoplifters.

"The shoplifters come in groups. That's how they do it," explained Kevin Raden, who has worked at several stores at the mall. "With clothing, it's very easy to try something on and if there aren't enough associates at the store, you can easily remove a sensor and walk out with it. It's common that people walk in with bags from other stores and slide it (merchandise) into the bags."

Under the ALERT program, an e-mail is sent out to the stores as soon as officers respond to a store about a crime. Shoplifting alerts typically include a suspect description and what kind of items the criminals target.

"So we can prevent other crimes from occurring, and catch the criminals,"  explained Officer Rebecca Cowan, with the Sevierville Police Department.

Store workers say it has made a big difference when it comes to catching criminals.

"Their response time is great," Raden said. "If something happens, we give them a description and the criminals don't get to leave the mall."

Right now, the ALERT system is limited to just the two main malls, but this summer, officers want to get businesses throughout the city signed up for the program.

"If someone's shoplifting here, they're shoplifting down the road at the grocery store, and they're shoplifting everywhere else. So if we get their picture out, we'll catch them more," Officer Cowan said.

Businesses in Sevierville are encouraged to sign up through the police department. The ALERT program is not just about sending out suspect descriptions. It covers all kinds of crime. Counterfeit money, for example, is something they send out alerts about often.

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