Dickens fantasy, Uber aversion lead to arrests


Somewhere in the Crime for Dummies handbook there must be a list of crimes that smart outlaws never touch. Perhaps these crimes are ruled out because they bring especially bad karma, they have an unacceptable profit-to-risk ratio, or there’s an unusually high chance of getting caught, either by the law or by a family of cannibal rednecks who wouldn’t think twice about hanging a would-be thief up to cure like a tastelessly tattooed ham. 

Robbing gun stores, for instance. Doesn’t that sound exactly like the kind of crime that should be on the “no go” list? Gun store owners aren’t known for their low level of vigilance, and if their store isn’t covered from floor to ceiling with infrared motion detectors, hi-def video cameras and Indiana Jones-style booby traps, it’s probably because they don’t want to preserve any record of what happened when they caught you. Believe me, there are plenty of places that a smart criminal would rather steal from, places where your overall odds of survival should be considerably higher: convenience stores, banks, and the nearest Cobra Kai dojo are probably all better choices for the discerning thief. 

In light of those observations, perhaps the two men and five teenage boys and girls involved in a Knox County burglary ring that was taken down last week by the Law should be grateful they were arrested before their streak of good luck ran out. 

At least they had the good sense to hit their targets in the middle of the night, when small armies of gun-totin’ customers and employees weren’t on hand to ventilate them with several hundred rounds of ammo. Of course, they also had the bad judgment to apparently make such a poor showing that within hours of their last “job” they were taken down by a small army of cops from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  

The first break-in was discovered about 3:49 a.m. Nov. 1 when Knox County deputies were dispatched to investigate a burglary at Knoxville Tactical, 7609 Blueberry Road.  At least a dozen handguns were stolen from the business and investigators soon learned that “several juveniles and adults were involved in not only the Knoxville Tactical Burglary but additional businesses as well as vehicle burglaries and thefts,” according to a Sheriff’s Office press release.

By the morning of Nov. 4 enough evidence had been discovered for a search warrant to be issued for an address on Hull Lane. The officers found two stolen vehicles and 22 firearms, including AR-15 and AK-47 rifles.

Two adult males, two juvenile males and three juvenile females were arrested.

The investigators also learned the group was allegedly behind the burglary of Topside Gun Warehouse in Louisville earlier that morning. At least 20 guns were stolen in that break-in, and police also recovered a third stolen vehicle in the parking lot of a West Knoxville Wal-Mart that had been used in several burglaries “in surrounding jurisdictions,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

Police said they also seized $1,800 in cash that was believed to be proceeds from selling some of the stolen guns.

We can only assume (well, hope) that the leaders of the burglary ring were named Fagin and Bill Sykes. We can also only hope the thefts were carried out by cutting holes in the rooftops and then lowering the most dexterous teens on fishing poles while the rest of the gang performed “It’s A Fine Life” or other song-and-dance numbers to confuse the alarm systems. 

Even if that scenario isn’t true, it bloody well should be.

Ah, the drama that could be avoided if only everyone would call an Uber when they needed one……

For instance, it’s a pretty good bet that the 30-year-old man who was behind the wheel of a 27-year-old Chevrolet Caprice in the early morning hours of Nov. 3 wishes that he could go back in time and avail himself of either the Lyft or Uber apps on his phone. He might even wish that he’d shelled out the exorbitant price of a cab instead of making the ill-reasoned decision to drive himself anywhere that night.

You see, this guy’s problems only began with the missing registration sticker on his car. The sad fact was that he also didn’t have any insurance, which is a big no-no in the state of Tennessee.  But the icing on this particular cake of stupidity was the fact that he also didn’t have a valid driver’s license, which means that he would have had no business driving anywhere even if he hadn’t been carrying  nearly half a gram of methamphetamine and a glass pipe in which to smoke it. 

By now it should be obvious that the protagonist of our little melodrama wasn’t the type to let anything, least of all a sense of self-preservation, keep him down.  So it’s probably not a surprise that his life took a sudden turn for the worst when he was barreling down Kimberlin Heights Road just after 12:30 a.m. and attracted the hawk-like attention of Knox County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Kaleb Lee, who promptly lit up the Caprice with his blue lights in order to pull over the subject of our story.

Guess what our man of the Caprice did?

Yeah. That. In a Chevrolet nearly as old as he was, no less.

If only Bo and Luke Duke had been on hand in the General Lee, perhaps they could have run interference for our protagonist as he barreled through one stop sign after another for the next ten minutes, trying in vain to shake Deputy Lee off his tail.  Or maybe our man was simply destined to wreck the aging Caprice as he tried to make a tight curve on Tittsworth Springs Road and ended up crashing into some trees growing near the intersection of Hurst Road.

Our protagonist’s night on the town pretty much ended at this point. He was taken into custody without further incident and booked into the Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility, where he no longer had any choice about using the Uber app, calling a taxi or even walking to his destination. This outcome was probably in his best interest, as the mind quails to ponder what might happen if he were to continue making decisions for himself — or for the hapless Caprice, which was presumably several times smarter than its driver.

Tales of the Scruffy City come from public records provided on request by the Knoxville Police Department, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, and other government agencies. We do not identify the citizens who appear in these reports in order to protect their privacy. Many of those who appear in police reports are guilty of nothing more than having a bad day, while even those who are formally accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty.

Tales of the Scruffy City Volume I Number 1 is Copyright 2020 by The Hard Knox Wire.