Knoxville police to holiday shoppers: Don’t be a target for thieves

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – While many people are out shopping to try to give their families a wonderful Christmas, others are out to ruin it. So far this year, Knox County deputies have made 236 arrests and recovered $42,000 in stolen property, including Monday’s wild shoplifting incident in Turkey Creek.

One of the busiest places around this time of year is, of course, the mall. West Town Mall is extending hours on Christmas Eve. With so many people shopping, it’s also a prime time for thieves, which is why law enforcement has a few recommendations to protect yourself.

Previous story: 3 Middle Tennessee teens arrested after police chase near Turkey Creek

When you head down the aisles and scan the clothing racks, Capt. Bob Wooldridge with the Knoxville Police Department says all shoppers need to avoid being a target. They can do it simply by ditching the purse or locking it in the trunk.

“Anything of value that would interest a thief to say, ‘Hey I want to break into that car,'” said Wooldridge.

The idea is to show the thieves there’s nothing to take. If that’s not an option, keep your handbag as close to you as possible. If you decide to wear it, make sure you put it over your shoulder rather than across your body.

“If someone grabs your pocketbook, they are going to jerk you with it. And most importantly they are going to jerk that neck,” said Capt. Wooldridge.

Jessica Stokely says she clips her bag to her shopping cart so no one can grab it.

Related: Stores extend hours for last minute Christmas shoppers

“I can shop. I can look with all my stuff,” she said.
You should also remember to lock your car when going inside. KPD says more than 50 percent of car break-ins happen because the vehicle is unlocked. Denzel Tinnie says he checks several times to make sure the doors are locked.

“Got to keep everything safe, especially around the holidays,” said Tinnie.

Looking around and being aware of your surroundings is key as well. Capt. Wooldridge also suggested not leaving your purse in your shopping cart when walking back to your car. That could make you an easy target. It’s best to have your bag around your shoulder.

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