Arrests In Safe Theft Ring Earns Officer Special Award

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Arrests In Safe Theft Ring Earns Officer Special Award

Posted: 04/03/2009
Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Police Chief Sterling Owen named Investigator Ron Linkins the February Officer of the Month for the Knoxville Police Department. Investigator Linkins has been with KPD since March 1995.

Since September 2008 investigators with the Knoxville Police Department and the Knox County Sheriff's Office have been investigating multiple burglaries involving Dollar General Stores. The burglaries targeted the in-store safe at each location. The burglaries involved an organized group of individuals with a great amount of knowledge as to the safe locations and the security systems.

Chief Owen said, "With very little evidence found at the scene, Investigator Linkins put together a timeline and a detailed list of events involving each burglary. This timeline included information such as the day and time of the week as well as the weather conditions at the time of the burglaries."

As a result of information gathered in his investigation, Investigator Linkins reached out to Detective Steve Webb with the Knox County Sheriff's Office. A joint tactical operation was developed which resulted in the surveillance of more than 20 Dollar General Store locations.

Chief Owen said, "Investigator Linkins and Detective Webb set up surveillance on the suspect's residence for 3 nights. During the third night of their operation, the suspects left their residence which resulted in a mobile surveillance operation."

The surveillance team followed the three suspects to the parking lot of the Dollar General Store in Grainger County. The Grainger County Sheriff's Department was notified and was asked for assistance. The three suspects were approached as they were attempting to disable the security alarm. They attempted to flee the scene, but were taken into custody without incident. Investigators located numerous maps and burglary tools which provided the link to the Dollar General Stores' safe burglaries.

The suspects were linked to burglaries and attempted burglaries of sixteen Dollar General Stores. In addition, the ongoing investigation has produced information linking these suspects to over 50 car burglaries, business burglaries of three convenient and retail stores, and the recovery of an all terrain vehicle.

Chief Owen said, "The arrest of these dangerous suspects during the commission of a business burglary would not have been possible without the hours of surveillance and dedicated efforts of Investigator Linkins." Mayor Haslam said, "We commend Investigator Linkins for his dedication to his job and for truly making a positive impact in our community."

Chris Kirkpatrick, DOB 12-26-79
Jerry Kirkpatrick, DOB 5-24-68
Daniel Phelps, DOB 8-13-84

All three suspects have been charged with two counts of burglary in Knox County. In addition, they have been charged with one count of burglary in Blount County and one attempted burglary in Grainger County. They are also subjects of investigation in three nearby counties. Additional charges in Knoxville and Knox County are pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation.

Click here to view a listing of previous KPD award winners.