Deputies say man stole meat by stuffing it down his pants


LOUDON COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- $300 of ribeye steaks recently went missing at Food Lion on Highway 72 in Loudon County.

"The meat department noticed that there was a large amount of meats missing - more than usual in a short period of time. So they checked to see if someone had come through and bought a bunch of meat for a bbq or whatever. And not that amount of meat had went through the cash register," said Detective Jeff Russell, with the Loudon County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies say surveillance video shows a man walking into the store, looking around and then tucking his pants into his shoes before grabbing a newspaper and a cart. That's when he heads to the meat department and piles the steaks up under the newspaper. The next shot shows him leaving through the store's entraceway, pushing an empty cart. Detectives said he stuffed the meat down his pants.

"Well, I've heard of robberies, but not stuffing it down your pants. Usually they take a cart and wheel it out the back door," said Hugh VanInwegen, a Food Lion customer.

Detectives think the man has also hit other grocery stores in Blount and Knox Counties. They said it's important to get shoplifters like him off the streets:

"It makes the cost of our groceries go up. Everybody's groceries will go up because if they keep stealing out of the grocery stores and they're stealing $300 worth of meat - if he did it a number of times, that's expensive and they have to recoup their money," said Russell.

Russell said meat is the most popular item stolen from grocery stores, but said stealing large amounts like this is uncommon. He said many resell the meat, or trade it for drugs.

Detective Russell said they'll likely make an arrest soon. He said the man may have hit other stores recently, too - and asks any store that's had a similar problem to call the Loudon County Sheriff's Office at (865) 986-4823.


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