KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Shoppers are filling stores across the U.S. for Black Friday, and so are police.
Officials with the Knox County Organized Retail Crime Unit said they made at least 258 arrests since October. The Knox County Sheriff's Office also reported that deputies found over $230,000 worth of property and more than $100,000 dollars in cash as part of their work.
Sheriff Tom Spangler 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," Spangler said. "At least get that information to us. Let us look into it."
He said that people are mostly caught shoplifting when other shoppers reach out to authorities. Police can then watch the person for evidence of theft and stop it if they see it.
"Don't step forward," Spangler said. "You don't know that person could be armed. You don't know what condition that individual is in, so don't approach anybody but just make sure, as we would recommend, be the best witness you can be."
In January 2021, the Knox County Sheriff's Office reported making a total of 465 arrests during the 2020 holiday period. At the start of this year's holiday season, they are already halfway to last year's number of arrests.
"We still have another month and a half to go, so it kind of gives you an idea. With Christmas coming up it's going to pick up even more," Spangler said.
He said that shoplifting can often be associated with other crimes. People who steal or shoplift, Spangler said, can often be involved in other kinds of crimes. They may also try to sell the stolen products somewhere else, making a quick dollar.