Friday, May 20, 2011

Shoplifting Can Be Big Business

There's an interesting story over at the Seattle Times about recent arrests in a multi-million dollar shoplifting ring operating in the Seattle area.

The charges involve two separate groups that prosecutors say purchased a total of about $6 million in stolen food, beauty products and personal hygiene items and then resold them over the course of several years. Many of the items were stolen by drug addicts, who then sold them to members of the two groups for as little as $1 to $2, prosecutors allege.

Some of the items were resold online, at a Seattle market, or shipped to Cambodia, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said at a news conference Thursday morning.

There have been busts of organized shoplifting rings before, but I can't remember one quite this big. In many cases, shoplifting investigations are just not given a lot of scrutiny. In fact, many agencies just issue citations to shoplifters who are caught. I wouldn't be surprised if there are more organized boosting rings such as this though.

One thing I've noticed is how often shoplifters are involved in other criminal activities such as narcotics, identity theft or credit card abuse. It pays to keep track of these thieves because you are liable to see some of the hard core shoplifters again.

Even if your shoplifters aren't quite this organized, your retail stores' loss prevention folks can be a valuable asset in combatting boosters. They can also work with your officers to streamline arrests of shoplifters. Back when I was a beat cop, I used to leave stacks of our PD forms with the loss prevention folks at the big box retail stores after teaching them how to fill them out. That way, whenever I was dispatched up there for a shoplifter, they would have the necessary forms all completed which really made working these cases much easier.

What are you doing to partner with your local retailers to combat shoplifters?

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