Knoxville Police Have a New Tool to Stop Thefts at the Mall

By: Kim Bedford
By: Kim Bedford

Knoxville (WVLT) - The malls may be closed Christmas day, but you can bet they'll be packed again on Tuesday for those big after-Christmas bargains. Unfortunately, Knoxville police say car thieves are also looking for some after Christmas gifts.

That's why, as Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford shows us, KPD's keeping an extra eye out for you in West Towne Mall's parking lot. Hundreds of last minute shoppers fill the West Towne mall parking lot armed with presents and of course, money, leaving some people feeling.

"Vulnerable, not real comfortable being out alone," shopper Virginia Mitchell said.

79-year-old Mitchell can now walk to the mall with confidence knowing someone or something's looking out for her.

"I think it's great because I leave my car wandering if it's going to be there when I get back in this parking lot sometimes," Mitchell said.

It's the Knoxville Police "Sky Watch." You may have noticed it around West Towne Mall during this Holiday shopping season.

"It has controls inside of it. It has cameras all the way around it," said Lt. Steve Tinder from the Knoxville Police Department.

Giving officers a bird's eye view to catch car thieves in the act.

"Officers will be inside of that sometimes. You cannot see inside of it. You don't know if there's an officer up there or not," Tinder said.

But even if there's not an officer inside, there's a camera rolling.

"People who are actually here to do crime, break in and all, it's an intimidating factor because if they do break in through the scope of this thing, they're going to be video recorded," Tinder said.

Covering various sides of the mall and surrounding plazas 24 hours a day.

"It makes me feel better to know that it's there," shopper Carrie Thatcher said.

"I was never aware that they were monitoring, so that's great. I'm glad about that," shopper Kelly Burgess said.

Kelly Burgess says gifts are the last things she worries about being stolen.

"I'm a mother of two small children, so I worry more about just my child running out in the parking lot," Burgess said.

Lieutenant Steve Tinder says even though the numbers aren't in yet, Sky Watch has been a huge success at keeping people safer at the mall this Christmas season..

"This goes beyond just crime prevention to the point of catching people," Tinder said.

The Sky Watch debuted at UT's first football game this year and has been used for other big events such as Boomsday. Knoxville police aren't sure whether they'll buy another.


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