Knox County retail task force busts shoplifters this season

Knox County retail task force busts shoplifters this holiday season

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Staff at local stores say the police presence and the arrests give them a better sense of security. Staff at local stores say the police presence and the arrests give them a better sense of security.

By MONA NAIR
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – 6 News rode along with law enforcement as they went busting shoplifters this holiday season.

A task force focusing on retail crime has netted over 200 people for the crimes since just before Thanksgiving.

As we've reported recently, and in years past, crimes go up when you get into the holiday season.

Officers on the task force focus on major area stores. They walk and drive around looking for anything suspicious.

"Making sure people aren't breaking into cars when people are shopping, and stuff like that," explained Patrolman Joseph Sulewski, walking around in the parking lot of the Farragut Walmart.

"We started the Monday before Thanksgiving. The task force is all over the county. So far we've arrested over 200 people,"  he added.

We watched them in action as they arrested a group of three people. This after an officer spotted one of them shoplifting.

"The one individual had just stolen a pair of pants and put them on underneath his own pants," Sulewski explained.

That person led them to a whole group, with stolen merchandise, drugs, and an assortment of credit cards and ID's that belong to other people.

"One of the parties admitted he didn't even know the people. He didn't know where they came from. He got them from a friend. So we'll take them and turn them into our property and attempt to make contact with these people to see if they, in fact, may be stolen,"  Sulewski said.

Staff at local stores say the police presence and the arrests give them a better sense of security.

"With the cops being here, it gives me more safety whenever you see someone suspicious coming in," said Elliott Sanderson, who works at Soccer USA in Farragut.

Store employees also say it makes a better holiday shopping environment for everyone.

"The goal is to make it safer for everyone out here shopping , working with retailers and making it a safer shopping environment through the holidays," Patrolman Sulewski said.

The retail crime task force has been in existence for a few years. The patrolman we spoke to says he believes there's been a steady drop in crime. But that doesn't mean bad guys aren't out there, so be wary of your surroundings and your belongings.

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