Knoxville tire store owners in custody after raid

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Two people were arrested after an investigation at a Knoxville tire store Thursday morning. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office believes Sexton’s New and Used Tires and Automotive on Baxter Avenue was the location of “the buying and selling of stolen property.”

Paul Sexton and Corina Sexton both are facing theft charges. Paul Sexton’s bond is set at $12,000 and his wife’s at $3,000.

The sheriff’s office says the first time deputies came to the business, they were undercover and sold stolen items, which is how this whole investigation started.

People stood across the street from Sexton’s with questions as deputies collected evidence.

“I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I just knew that something drastic happened over there,” said Tony Walker.

KCSO says thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen merchandise was inside the business.

“These folks have bought motor oil, transmission fluids, tires, refrigerant, cigarettes, anything that’s stolen of value. Folks like this are buying and turning that stolen property into cash so people can go buy their drugs,” said Chief Lee Tramel with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

The search warrant at Sexton’s New and Used Tires was done by the Sheriff’s Retail Theft Unit. Investigators say they get tips about businesses taking part in “fencing,” which is buying stolen items, from drug addicts.

“With search warrants and raids like this right here, hopefully we can turn that tide of having places to go to for people who steal to turn their stolen property into cash,” added Chief Tramel.

Chief Tramel says fencing feeds into the growing opioid epidemic happening in our community.

“If you’re operating as a fence in our community, I will tell you, we will find you and put you in jail. We’re not going to stop at this. This isn’t for show.”

Deputies say part of their investigation includes how used tires were disposed of, therefore environmental charges could be pending.

In April, the sheriff’s office investigated Big Orange Pawn and Loan for selling stolen property.

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