Keepin’ it clean; one “done” drunk


Keeping it clean 

We’ve all heard that cleanliness is next to godliness, but in Knoxville recently it seemed as though getting clean was instead a peculiar fixation of the criminal mind.

For instance, a gang of soap- and scent-shoplifters hit the Bath & Body Works in West Town  Mall at least a half-dozen times in the week leading up to Halloween. 

The trio got away with several thousand dollars worth of candles, soap, and various perfumed products by filling up store-provided bags with the goods and then heading out the door, according to KPD reports. 

Employees told police that they were sometimes distracted by one of the alleged thieves while the others slipped away, and on one occasion the police weren’t notified immediately “due to the store being busy.”

Sometimes the crew appeared to be comprised of a white male and two Black females, while at other times the alleged thefts were carried out solely by the females. The male was described as a short, heavy-set white dude clad in jeans, white shirt, and a “veterans hat.” One of his accomplices wore a track jacket, pink hat and yellow shoes while the other was described simply as having “short dreads and is short in stature.”

The good news is that police searching for this ambrosial crew will have a bit more to go on then merely following their noses for eau de thief, as the incidents were captured by the store’s security system.

But this trio of perfumed purloiners weren’t alone in their desire to mix a little kleptomania with the otherwise lackluster chore of cleaning. 

For instance, a less ambitious specimen of olfactory-obsessed shoplifter struck the Family Dollar Store at 2604 Magnolia Avenue in the mid-afternoon of Oct. 31. A guy wearing a Navy blue shirt and “either leather or denim jacket” came into the store shortly before 3:50 p.m. A suspicious employee then allegedly saw the guy stuffing Lysol, Febreze and detergent down his pants along with some phone chargers. Although he managed to get away from the store with the stolen scrubbing supplies, employees later told a responding KPD officer that this incident was also captured on video.

Perhaps the juiciest bit of soapy chicanery took place when a one-night stand in Northeast Knoxville took a wrong turn and the mere mention of getting clean left one man unhappily exposed to the midnight machinations of a sneaky siren.

The alleged victim claimed that a “young lady” (he was unsure of her full name) had visited him overnight at his home on Jacksboro Pike on the night before Halloween.  The “visiting” lasted until around 5:30 a.m., when the young lady expressed a wish to use her host’s shower.

Undoubtedly aware that this is fairly standard protocol for such encounters, the chivalrous studmuffin gave permission for her to use his soap and shampoo to scrub away any reminders of their evening, unaware that she actually had in mind something else entirely. 

The man later told the cops that he had assumed she was just “going to get something out of the car” when she grabbed his keys and went outside.

She never returned, and when the furious loverboy got around to calling the cops just before noon all he could do was report that his sleepover companion had made a clean getaway with his car.

The police didn’t release a make or model of the stolen vehicle but did note that it had been logged as stolen with the NCIC.

One “done” drunk

The Hard Knox Wire doesn’t plan on staking out a lot of editorial positions. We’d love to publish columns from local writers of all political persuasions, and occasionally our very own staff writers will give their thoughts on the events of the day, but we have no intention of the publication itself endorsing candidates or policies. We feel that HKW has other roles to fill. 

All that being said, we do have one opinion that we’re happy to put on the record today: Drunk driving sucks. 

It doesn’t matter what you call it — from driving while impaired to so-called “buzzed driving” to the classic three syllable acronym D.U.I. — drunk driving is a Bad Thing. It sucks at all times and in all places, and it absolutely never sucks in that special tingly way. It’s stupid, reckless, and deadly for anyone to even be near an intoxicated driver, and we reserve the right to cheer on those cops who get the most egregious of these offenders off the streets. 

Cops like KPD Officer Luis Vazquez, who arrested a 47-year-old man who allegedly led the officer on a hair-raising car chase Oct. 30 during which he refused to allow his terrified passenger to bail out of their vehicle despite her desperate pleas to be let out, according to police reports. 

Vazquez spotted a Dodge minivan parked the wrong way on E. Fifth Avenue about 12:30  a.m. and chose to take a closer look. When Vazquez turned on his blue lights, however, the guy behind the wheel “fled the scene at a high rate of speed, disregarded every stop sign west on E. Fifth Avenue and almost lost control of the vehicle several times.”

Vazquez broke off the chase but wound up behind the vehicle again when he spotted it pulling into a lot at 2300 Washington Pike. This time the man behind the wheel was ordered out of the vehicle at gunpoint and he proceeded to climb out of the Dodge in a highly unorthodox manner.

“(He) exited the vehicle with an alcoholic beverage in his hand, spilling it all over himself,” Vazquez wrote in his report. 

The man admitted to drinking some wine earlier and agreed to take a breathalyzer test but then balked at the last moment, blowing only once into the machine before declaring, “You got your sample, I’m done!”

It turned out the driver hadn’t been alone.  The vehicle also contained a 43-year-old woman who soon had him in even more hot water by telling officers that she’d pleaded with him to let her out during the chase but he ignored her. “Therefore he interfered with her liberty. … and placed her in substantial risk of bodily injury,” Vazquez wrote.

A search of the minivan turned up an open bottle of vodka, empty beer cans and a used meth pipe while a search of computerized records showed that the driver had a suspended driver’s license.

Thank you, Officer Vazquez (and the other officers who responded to this mess) — please keep it up!

KPD Officer Luis Vazquez
KPD Officer Luis Vazquez