ROSEVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) — A rise in brazen shoplifting in California caught the attention of Gov. Gavin Newson this week.
He said the amount of organized retail theft happening in the state is unacceptable.
On average, organized retail crime cost stores $700,000 per $1 billion in sales every year and with many factors making gifts more expensive this season, local authorities are ready to see more thefts in the weeks to come.
Brazen thieves recently hit San Francisco when, in a 24-hour period, several flash mobs of shoplifters swarmed department stores, taking thousands of dollars in merchandise.
The thefts make patrons like Lin Cruz and Carla Matay uneasy to shop this year.
“I used to go to San Francisco every Christmas and go do the Macy’s thing and the skating and the puppies in the window,” Matay told FOX40. “I don’t want to go now, it frightened me seeing the news.”
This year, retail prices have soared by more than 5% and thefts are expected to rise with the ongoing congestion at U.S. ports.
“This year is going to be incredibly bad for retail theft,” Roseville Police Department’s Rob Baquera told FOX40.
Roseville police said they are preparing for an influx of shoplifting by ramping up patrols both outside and inside of busy shopping areas like Westfield Roseville Galleria.
We have more uniformed, marked officers patrolling all of our retail center including our big high-end retail centers to our mom-and-pop shops,” Baquera explained.
They’re also relying on the public’s help to look out for tell-tale signs of flash-mob shoplifting in places that are normally hit hard like cellphone, makeup and jewelry stores.
“Five cars pull up in front of a retail establishment and 10 people jump out of those cars and rush into a store, that’s suspicious, immediately call 911,” Baquera advised.
Many people may wonder why store employees can’t stop or physically detain people who are shoplifting and that’s based on different store policies and there are also legal reasons why they can’t do that.
“There’s a lot of liability involved if you do something and say you’re chasing somebody out of the store and you run into another customer or something, there’s all different kinds of scenarios that can happen,” explained Steve Reed, former head of Arden Mall Security.
According to Reed, shoplifting is still considered to be a misdemeanor offense if the total amount is below a certain number, a rule he said the legal system must fix.
“It has to be over $950 for it to be a felony,” Reed explained. “They’re becoming more and more lenient when there’s not a lot of accountability for people that are out there committing these crimes.”
The general manager for Westfield Roseville Galleria sent FOX40 the following statement regarding security ahead of Black Friday:
During the holiday timeframe and the resulting heightened traffic, the Roseville Galleria has an increase of security presence and employs Roseville Police Department as well as the Placer County Sheriff mounted patrol.