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Organized shoplifting rings on the rise
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
Police say the lone shoplifter is always a problem, but organized rings are a growing concern. Monday night, Beaumont Police arrested four women who worked together to steal from a store near Parkdale Mall. Sergeant Burt Moore says two of the women shoplifted, while the other two were in the getaway car. Workers at the store saw the women shoplifting, and called the police, who arrested the women in the parking lot.
Sergeant Moore says organized theft rings are on the rise.
"Over the last few years we've seen an increase in theft rings where there's multiple suspects going into retailers, and working in conjunction with each other, communicating via cell phones," said Moore, "and then going from retailer to retailer, a lot of times several times during a day."
Sergeant Moore says Parkdale Mall is one of the main areas organized shoplifting rings target.
"I've talked to retail managers who state that they can walk through the mall at any given time and point them out to you, going, 'we've seen them in our stores multiple times. We know what they're doing. They're here every day. They're here on the weekends,'" said Sergeant Moore.
Many stores have Loss Prevention Investigators who work undercover to spot shoplifters.
"You never really would know us from a normal shopper," explained a Loss Prevention Investigator, who asked us not to use his name.
He says he's seen a huge increase in organized shoplifting crime, which Loss Prevention Investigators try to combat.
"We work with the police departments, we work with other retailers, the shoplifters are organized and so are we," he said.
Sergeant Moore says most organized theft rings steal for drug money.
"They have to be able to get the narcotics in some way, so they'll steal the product, go bring it to a drug dealer who sometimes will fence the product, and then trade it for drugs," said Sergeant Moore.
Shoplifting does not just hurt stores, Sergeant Moore says it also hurts shoppers.
"The more number of thefts that occur, the higher the product is going to [cost] because [stores] are passing along the loss to the consumer," said Sergeant Moore.
Theft increases during the holidays. The Loss Prevention Investigator says, if you shoplift, you will be caught.
"There's no doubt, if you're in that store, even if we're not there, you're going to be on camera, and we're going to get a shot of your face, someone's going to identify you, and you're going to get caught," said the investigator.
Sergeant Moore says most, if not all, stores in Beaumont have video surveillance systems.