DeWitt (WSYR-TV) - Shoplifting is a crime that costs both stores and customers. For every dollar spent, as much as seven cents goes to cover items that were stolen. A new plan of attack is trying to turn back the tide of shoplifting.
Although better video surveillance and loss prevention teams have helped stores arrest shoplifters, even repeat offenders aren't penalized that much. The Greater DeWitt Retail Theft Coalition wants to change that.
Made up of 50 store managers, security officers and police from across Central New York, the coalition facilitates the sharing of information and pictures. They say they've already identified organized theft groups, including a trio that targeted JC Penny and Sears stores.
"She would go in and bag everything. She would come in and take the bag. They both with get into the car with him," said DeWitt Police Officer Brenton White. "We were able to dig deeper into it, and it ended up being able to search a vehicle, loaded with merchandise from the Sears store nearby."
In addition to dozens of arrests, they're also building stronger cases against habitual shoplifters. For example, police say Thomas Padgett would steal a certain dollar amount of tools because he knew it would only add up to a misdemeanor charge. He was recognized by a Home Depot employee.
"Through the website, and her being able to recognize a repeat offender, we were able to charge him with all the others, under a grand larceny amount. We rolled it all into one to get one big grand larceny scheme," White said.
Zyeisha Mitchell is also wanted as a repeat offender. She's a suspect in a fraudulent return ring and there's also a warrant out for her arrest on the charge of second degree forgery.
White says shoplifting not only drives up costs, it can also be a gateway for more serious criminal behavior. "These groups of individuals, tend to sell for drugs. Other individuals sell it to a fence in order to get cash back," he said.
Stopping thefts will keep costs down for everybody.