(FOX40.COM) — Retail theft crime is on the rise in California and a Sacramento County law enforcement leader is at odds with retailers about a resolution to the problem.
Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper took his frustrations to social media about what he perceives to be a lack of cooperation from retailers like Target and Walgreens to combat shoplifting.
“(WE) were contacted by the employees of a Sacramento area Walgreens. Store employees told us they were inundated with repeat offenders, who continually shoplifted from their stores with no fear,” Cooper said in a series of posts on X. “Many of the perpetrators were homeless individuals that set up camp nightly by the store. They asked for our help to stop the rampant theft and to help keep their customers, and themselves, safe.”
Cooper said the sheriff’s office developed an “operation to stop the thefts and arrest the thieves,” however, Walgreens wouldn’t let law enforcement execute it.
“Yesterday, as a team of about a dozen deputies began setting up the operation, Walgreen’s corporate office refused to cooperate with our deputies making it impossible for us to carry out our operation at this Walgreen’s store,” Cooper said. “This was yet another example of big retailers reminding us that they don’t care about retail theft or the consumer.”
Cooper said that consumers are the people affected the most by retail theft.
“They (Walgreens) will publicly complain about out of control retail theft and then implement solutions that help them, but harm the consumer,” he said. “To cover their losses they raise prices on food, clothing, and medicines; and lock up many of these items behind plexiglass making it inconvenient for their shoppers to access. All while refusing to cooperate with law enforcement to improve public safety.”
In response, Walgreens told FOX40 that they are still willing to work with the sheriff’s office to combat retail theft.
“Theft continues to be one of the top challenges facing retailers nationwide including Walgreens, and that’s why we partner with law enforcement, elected officials and community leaders to address this issue,” said Walgreens Senior Director of External Relations Fraser Engerman.
“We frequently work with law enforcement agencies on sting operations across California and the rest of the county as part of a multifaceted approach to combat organized retail crime and theft, and invite future and additional collaborations, including with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.”
In another post on X, the sheriff criticized Target, who he said contacted the sheriff’s office numerous times to help them with shoplifters. He said another operation was put together to help reduce theft, but the retailer had stipulations.
“At the briefing, we were told by their head of regional security that we could not contact suspects inside the store, we could not handcuff suspects in the store, and if we arrested someone, they wanted us to process them outside- behind the store- in the rain,” Copper said.
He continued, “We were told they didn’t want to create a scene inside the store and have people film it and put it on social media. They didn’t want negative press. Unbelievable.”
Cooper said his team witnessed a woman on camera bring in her own shopping bags, go down the body wash aisle, and grab a bunch of Native body washes. Then she went to customer service and returned them. According to Cooper, Target didn’t do anything about it and refused to let law enforcement take action either.
Sacramento Sheriff calls out California Retail Association
In addition to challenging Target and Walgreens, Cooper also accused the California Retail Association (CRA) President Rachel Michelin of not doing enough to stop shoplifting.
“You work for an organization that represents big box retailers in the legislature. You claim you have done more to combat retail theft than anyone else. The public can clearly see the problem has gotten worse, not better,” Cooper said. “Stop kidding yourself, you and CRA do not set policies for these corporate giants.”
He added, “As one of the 58 sheriffs in the state of California, I see my deputies dealing with this mess on a daily basis. We will continue to protect the public, even with the bad laws the California Retailers Association have failed to change.”
FOX40 reached out to the CRA for comment but did not receive a response in time for this publication.