A trio of shoplifters target high-end stores in West Knoxville

A trio of shoplifters target high-end stores in West Knoxville

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"The girls helped [this man] for about 20 minutes, picking out some different jackets, that's when he just grabbed a handful of jackets and bolted," explained manager Bret Smith. "The girls helped [this man] for about 20 minutes, picking out some different jackets, that's when he just grabbed a handful of jackets and bolted," explained manager Bret Smith.
Police believe the same group hit Blue Ridge Mountain Sports two days later. Police believe the same group hit Blue Ridge Mountain Sports two days later.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE  (WATE) – Police are searching for a trio of shoplifters targeting high-end stores in West Knoxville.

Blue Ridge Mountain Sports and Alpine Ski Center, both on Kingston Pike, are among the stores targeted.

The victims of this crime say these shop lifters are very bold. All three incidents happened in the middle of the day at high end stores. The three suspects pulled their vehicle to the spot in front of the door and when they were inside, they grabbed a handful of merchandise and fled.

Police believe the first hit was at Alpine Ski Center on October 10th.

"The girls helped [this man] for about 20 minutes, picking out some different jackets, that's when he just grabbed a handful of jackets and bolted," explained manager Bret Smith.

Smith was outside when it happened.

"I saw him walking out fast with a handful of jackets. I was looking inside his car and he had his car door open and at the time I didn't know if he had purchased the jackets or not and at that time I thought I was unusual having the hangers on there. I asked him about it and that's when he shut the door in my face and kind of knocked me backward," Smith said.

They made off with $1,700 of merchandise.

Police believe the same group hit Blue Ridge Mountain Sports two days later.

"A couple came in, just kind of hanging out, as an employee stepped behind the door, they just grabbed an armful of stuff and fled," said employee Chad Coffman.

At both stores, the suspects went straight for The North Face jackets, with a price tag of more than $300.

"I think they picked a particular brand that's a popular brand that they could maybe turn over quickly," explained Coffman.

At Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, the shoplifters made away with $1,000.

None of the stores caught the shoplifters on camera, but an employee at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports snapped a photo of the car fleeing. It was a white Nissan Altima with no tags.

The grab-and-go nature of these crimes is what shocked the store managers most.

"I didn't think he'd come back to this area but who knows. If he was that brave the first time than he might have try a second time," worries Smith.

At this time, police believe three stores have been hit and that the trio may have left the area. At least two other stores say they think the same three people shop lifted at their stores.

As police continue to investigate the crimes, store owners want others to be aware.

"Have your employees out visible in front of your customers at all times, that's the biggest thing we can do," warned Smith.

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