KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A spokesperson for the Knox County Sheriff’s Office reports that its Organized Retail Crime Holiday Task Force had arrested a total of 199 people since the effort launched Nov. 13. That’s up 85 arrests prior to Black Friday.
The task force has also recovered more than $95,000 in stolen merchandise, as well as five vehicles, narcotics, and cash.
Despite being in a pandemic, KCSO Captain Aaron Yarnell said arrests are trending higher than previous years.
A total of 109 of the people arrested has other outstanding warrants.
“A lot of times people forget that these shoplifters. A lot of times they are supporting a habit, whether it be a narcotics habit, an alcohol issue, or other problems. It’s not just shoplifting. They’re supporting something,” Yarnell said.
While he believes the public shouldn’t be afraid of shopping, he noted they should be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious behavior.
“It’s not at 10 o’clock at night or 1 o’clock in the morning. These types of crimes happen at any time during the day,” he said. “Be aware of your surroundings. Definitely report any suspicious behavior to the sheriff’s office so we can follow up with it.”
Theft around this time of year is often crime of opportunity, which is why Yarnell offered reminders for the public to stay safe during the holiday season.
These reminders include shopping with another person, ensuring no valuables are visible inside your car when you’re inside a store, parking in a well-lit area, and make sure you know where you’re parked before leaving a store.
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