Knoxville's Dumbest Crimes

We review a few months of police blotter entries

Although local law enforcement officers must often face life-and-death situations—apprehending armed robbers, murderers, kidnappers, and the like—they also deal with a daily wave of utterly mundane criminality. That’s the unavoidable conclusion we reached after examining the daily blotters for the Knoxville Police Department and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office for the last few months, combing through the reports to get an idea of what officers face on the street. And that would be: really stupid, petty criminals. Lots of them. Every day. In fact, the more entries we read, the more patterns of dumbness started to emerge. This is just a sampling of what our thin blue line typically faced this summer.



10:30 a.m., June 14

Starbucks, 501 W. Church Ave.

A man plugged in his cell phone while sitting at a table at Starbucks. He then fell asleep. When he woke up, his phone was gone and he called the police. (Presumably with the shop’s phone.)


10:30 a.m., July 9

Clinch Avenue and Henley Street

An officer was at a red light right as a suspect was “fishing” dollar bills out of a Premier Parking lot pay box. The suspect used a wire hanger to pull money out of the pay box slots. When the officer approach him, he “spontaneously” admitted what he was doing. He was arrested, and again admitted to taking the $11 found in his pocket.


12:20 p.m., July 18

Northshore Brasserie

A Clean Energy Bio Fuels employee told police he went to Northshore Brasserie to pick up a 150-gallon metal container filled with materials to make biodiesel. When the employee arrived, the container was gone. A Brasserie employee then told him a man had come a month prior in a U-Haul truck to take the container. The Brasserie employee said he thought the unknown man was a Clean Energy Bio Fuels employee who was doing maintenance to the container “or something of that nature.”



4 p.m., July 12

West Town Mall

A mall security agent saw a woman try to steal $200 worth of merchandise from Hollister. The agent stopped the woman, who became “argumentative and combative.” During the struggle that followed, the security agent was injured by the woman. When security arrested her, she feigned a medical emergency. An ambulance responded, and the paramedics determined she was fine. The woman was arrested and banned from all Hollister property, and West Town Mall for a year.


6:26 p.m., July 12

Kroger, 9225 Kingston Pike

A store employee called police and told them a man put 15 rib-eye steaks into a hand-held basket and ran from the store without paying for them. A detective contacted the store to help identify the suspect.


4:30 p.m., July 16

Knoxville Center Mall

A man called police and told them that his hair clippers had been stolen from his station inside the barbershop where he works. A longtime customer had come in to get his hair cut, but got into an argument with the barber, who refused to cut his hair. The customer left, and the barber stepped outside for about five minutes. When the barber returned to his station, he noticed three sets of his clippers were gone. A fellow employee witnessed the customer putting the clippers in his bag and leaving.


5:45 p.m., July 17

Food City, 7510 Asheville Highway

A woman, who police later determined was banned from Food City properties, tried to steal steaks by putting them in her purse, which she’d successfully done at two other store locations. Employees stopped her and reminded her she was not allowed to be in the store.



8 p.m., June 9

West Haven Elementary School

The school’s alarm went off, and officers found in the portable buildings that a suspect or suspects had dumped bottles of hand sanitizer on various items, including an Apple computer. Two kids told police they saw two boys running away from the school.


9 a.m. July 17

Virginia Avenue

A woman called police to report that her vehicle had been vandalized during the night by kids throwing rocks at it from a church property next to her house. Her car’s windshield, hood, roof, and driver’s door were damaged. Police gave her a report number.


6:30 a.m. July 27

Davenport Road

A man called police when he noticed the tires of his Cadillac DeVille had been slashed overnight. The suspect left a note on his vehicle that said: “That’s what you get for telling my mom that I’ve been getting high with the guy upstairs.” One of the man’s neighbor’s also had flat tires and a similar note on it.


2:30 p.m., Aug. 5

Hoitt Avenue

A woman called the police and told them that her grandson had left his bike against her front door while he came inside to use the restroom. When he went back out, his bike was gone, and was replaced with an older white bicycle.



5:30 p.m., June 12

Hertz Rent-a-Car, 201 N. Seven Oaks Drive

A Hertz customer got a call that the car he or she rented had not been returned. The customer alerted Hertz. An employee there told police he suspected a former employee who still had a key to the lock box

where rental car keys are deposited. The car was found at the suspect’s residence.


9:30 a.m. July 14

Spanish Trace Apartments

The Spanish Trace maintenance manager called police to report that a water heater, two commercial coin-operated washing machines, and two commercial coin-operated dryers were stolen from the property. A witness (a maintenance employee) said he saw another maintenance employee take the water heater. The manager called a local scrap metal yard and was told the suspect had been there recently.


8 a.m., July 16

Marble Hill Boulevard

A man called police and said that while he was in the hospital, his son, who had a key to the man’s house, had stolen several pieces of furniture from his house, including a couch, a love seat, a coffee table, a dining room table and four chairs, a TV, two DVD players, a bed headboard, night stand, and dresser, and a desktop computer. The man said his son had admitted to him that he took the couch


4 p.m., Aug. 5

West Town Mall

Police responded to a report of embezzlement at Abercrombie and Fitch. An employee admitted he picked out a long-sleeved denim shirt (worth $50), hid the item, and the took it without paying.



3:30 p.m., June 13

Piedmont Street

A woman called police and reported that her handicap placard had been stolen out of her car. She said it was unlocked and the windows were rolled down.


8 a.m., July 17

Daylily Drive

A man called police and told them he’d left his house the previous Monday around noon, and forgot to lock his front door. When he returned later that day, he found that someone had entered his apartment and taken his couch.


9:30 a.m., Aug. 4

Barbara Drive

A woman told police she’d parked her John Deere riding lawn mower one evening. Two days later, it was missing. She told police she’d left the key in the ignition.



2:45 p.m., July 19

Tree Top Way

A man called police when he woke up to find his laptop missing. Also gone was a woman he went to sleep with at around 6 a.m. He told police the woman had posted from his Facebook account that she’d stolen his laptop. The victim said he would take a screenshot of the status and e-mail it to investigators.


4:30 p.m., July 27

Kroger, 2217 N. Broadway

A man called police and told them his son had listed his Xbox on Craigslist, and agreed to meet a man named “Michael” at Kroger so he could look at the item. When the man’s son arrived at Kroger, Michael asked to hold the Xbox, but then took the item, jumped into his maroon Cadillac, and took off.


1:45 p.m., Aug. 4

McCalla Avenue

A man walked into the police station to report he had received an e-mail from an unknown person to become that person’s personal assistant. The man said the unknown suspect sent him a check for $3, 250 and instructions to deposit some of the money and wire the rest to New York. The man followed the instructions, then found his bank account balance to be negative. He then realized it was a scam.



10:45 a.m., June 17

John Duncan Federal Building, 710 Locust Street

A security guard told police he noticed white stickers were placed on two different hand rails leading to the courtyard. The word “stink” was written on the stickers with arrows pointing toward the building. “Stink” was also written on a government sign. There are no leads in this case.


12:15 p.m., June 17

Knoxville Visitors Center

A Visitors Center employee called police and reported that he noticed what looked like five bullet marks on the glass window of the center. There was an advertisement for the Kuumba festival in the window facing Summit Hill Drive, and the employee said the shots must have been fired the night before, possibly from a BB gun. The glass was not punctured. 


7:45 p.m., July 13

Clinch Avenue and Walnut Street

Police responded to a vandalism complaint. The caller said he saw a man kicking a silver car several times. The suspect made several dents in the car. The caller went and talked to the suspect, and told police he seemed very intoxicated, and had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. Police asked the suspect what he was doing, and the suspect told them he was from Las Vegas and “didn’t care that there were three” officers there. The suspect was arrested for public intoxication.


9 p.m. July 16

Whittle Springs Golf Course

A golf course employee called police and told them that sometime between noon at 9 p.m., someone had driven a golf cart across the grass of Hole 6, damaging the course. There were several carts that came back to the employee muddy, and multiple people were at the course who could’ve been responsible for the damage.



12:15 a.m., July 16

W. Oak Hill Avenue

A man and a woman called police to report that a man had been running through the alley behind W. Emerald Avenue. The man went to investigate what was going on, and a suspect wearing only blue boxer shorts and sneakers punched him in the mouth. The suspect was later found by officers crawling around in a neighbor’s yard

(still in just his boxers), screaming so loudly that the neighbor was awakened.


12:30 a.m., July 18

Lake Avenue

Officers responded to a complaint about a man “rubbing on girls in a playful way” during a house party. A second man confronted the dancing man when one of his female friends told him that the dancing man would not stop when she asked. At least two other women told police similar stories. The second man confronted the dancing man, but the dancing man punched him. The second man was held back from responding in kind. Police advised the second man on how to proceed with prosecution.


1:47 a.m., July 18

West Hills Road

A woman told police she was lying on the sleeper sofa in the living room with her dog when she heard a door opening. She saw a dark figure in the kitchen, and the dog became agitated. The man in the kitchen identified himself as a neighbor from two houses down and told the woman there were several people running around outside. The woman screamed for her son-in-law. The strange man told the son-in-law the same thing. The son-in-law told the strange man to get out of his house, then followed to make sure he left. Outside, the son-in-law saw a black SUV sitting on the corner. The driver of the SUV got out and started walking around a neighbor’s car port. The son-in-law went back inside for a moment, and when he returned, the suspects and the SUV were gone. Police canvassed the area, but didn’t find anyone. The strange man who entered the house took $500 cash out of the son-in-law’s wallet that had been lying by the kitchen door.


3 p.m., July 20

Eighth Avenue

A woman came home to find her home had been broken into. She told police that nothing had been taken, but that she found muddy footprints near the side bathroom window. The woman added that there was no alarm sensor on the window, and only two people knew about it. She accused a neighbor of breaking in, since he’d sent her text messages the night before telling her he was taking a shower in the rain, and that he’d left something for her to find when she came home. Fingerprints were taken from the window.



6:20 p.m., June 12

McKay’s and Comics Exchange 

A Comics Exchange employee told police he got a call from his boss (the owner of Comics Exchange), who said two suspects had stolen several items by stuffing them into their pants. The boss told the employee he thought they were taking the items to McKay’s to re-sell. The Comics Exchange employee drove to McKay’s, where he spotted the suspects in the store. They were arrested and found to have five action figures and five graphic novels.


1:30 p.m., July 16

Walmart, 10900 Parkside Drive

A man walked into Walmart, picked up an air gun, removed the packaging, and put the gun into his pants before walking out of the store. A Walmart employee gave employees two possible license plate numbers, and a vehicle description.


11:45 p.m., July 18

Weigel’s, 411 E. Summit Hill Drive

A man walked into Weigel’s, picked out a can of beer, and put it in his pants before leaving without paying. 


12:45 p.m., Aug. 5

Family Dollar, 2604 E. Magnolia Ave.

A man went into the Family Dollar and took three bottles of Pantene shampoo, and tried to hide them by putting them in his pants. An employee confronted the man about it, and he took off running without paying for the shampoo. (The report does not note whether the suspect exhibited excruciating pain as he ran.) 



8 p.m., July 16

Walmart, 8445 Walbrook Drive

A Walmart employee told police that a man entered the door, and was seen on review of security footage taped on July 8 taking an air conditioning unit. The suspect was identified, and he had been banned from Walmart in February.


6:22 p.m., July 18

Walmart, 7420 Chapman Hwy.

A man walked into Walmart, selected a motor scooter, and then left without paying. The employee who made the call to police said the man got into a white Mercedes that was missing the front bumper. 


8:30 p.m. Aug. 3

Walmart, 3051 Kinzel Way

A man walked into Walmart and put a coffee maker and several pots and pans into a shopping cart. He then pushed the cart out of the main doors without paying for anything. He was stopped by security.


2 p.m., Aug. 4

Walmart, 3051 Kinzel Way

A Walmart employee called police when he saw a suspect try to hide curtains, curtain rods, and weed killer in a cloth bag, then leave without paying for them.


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