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Knox Co. Sheriff's Office made 253 retail-related arrests in the last month

Officials said that the Knox County Organized Retail Crime Unit recovered more than $265,000 worth of stolen property or cash.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Shoppers are filling stores across the U.S. for Black Friday, and so are law enforcement officers. Officials with the Knox County Organized Retail Crime Unit said they made at least 253 arrests during the month of November. 

The Knox County Sheriff's Office also reported that deputies recovered more than $265,000 or cash as part of their work.

KCSO said shoplifting can lead to price increases on other items in stores, as companies fill in profit gaps for unexpected holes in their inventory. 

"We ask people that if they see anything — and this has always been going on for years — if they see anything at all that's suspicious, we ask them to call 911," Sheriff Tom Spangler said. "At least get that information to us. Let us look into it."

In January, Knox County reported making a total of retail-related 513 arrests during the last holiday period from late October to December. 

At the start of this holiday period, the arrests are already more than halfway there.

"What we do is we just saturate the shopping areas, we want to ensure the safety of the shoppers, we want to ensure that everybody is safe," ORCU said. 

"Shopping should be easy, it should be an experience. But there are people out there that prey on shoppers, your unlocked cars, leaving your purse in the car leaving your gifts in the car," ORCU said. "When there's 1000 cars in the parking lot, you're not going to see that person laid down in their seat or walking five rows away,"

That's why investigators are asking you to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Knox County ORCU investigators said it's up to all of us to stop shoplifters but it's never a good idea to approach a suspect. 

Instead, report it to East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers. If your tip leads to an arrest -- Crime Stoppers will pay you while the tipster remains 100% anonymous.

"We've had car thefts, we have been responsible for being able to recover almost $82,000 worth of stolen property," East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers Executive Director Stacey Payne said. "As of this morning, we have now given out over $25,000 in reward money."

Sheriff Spangler said shoplifting can often be associated with other crimes. They may also try to sell the stolen products somewhere else, Spangler said, making a quick dollar.

If you would like to submit a tip, you can call or email East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers or go to its website. Crime Stoppers of East Tennessee is a non-profit. It runs on donations to find out how to help, click here.

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