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Task force nabs 60 in safe holidays program

7:46 PM, Nov 30, 2012   |    comments
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A special holiday task force is going after the grinches this season to keep shopper s safe across Knox County.

Inside busy stores, more people are watching the customers now than ever as theft prevention officers have back-up help outside.

"We have zero tolerance, when it comes to shoplifters this holiday season," said Lt. George Edlund, with the Knox County Sheriff's Department.

Friday two people were arrested at a Wal-Mart store in a matter of ten minutes. Already, officers have arrested 50 people for various charges, which is close to half of the arrests made last year in the entire program.

"I didn't expect to get so many this fast," said Edlund.

Edlund said officers often wait until shoppers get out to their cars to make arrests.

"We find weapons, we find drugs, we find paraphernalia. Sometimes they're in a car that doesn't even belong to them, so we get stolen cars out of it," said Edlund.

Officers in marked and unmarked cars also patrol parking lots to make sure drivers aren't speeding through, and that cars are not getting broken into.

As for shoplifters, the Sheriff is sending out a message, "Dirtbags beware."

Officers are not as giving this holiday season.

In Tennessee, officers have the choice of issuing a misdemeanor citation or make a felony arrest, but the Sheriff is mandating offenders are sent to jail rather than just getting a ticket.

"If they don't get caught in one store, they're going to keep going and go to the next one," said Edlund.

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