RPD and businesses worry about organized retail theft during holidays

Josh Chapin Image
Wednesday, December 14, 2022
RPD and businesses worry about organized retail theft during holidays
Big-box stores such as Target and Walmart are threatening to raise prices and close stores amid a shoplifting crisis but small local businesses are also feeling the pain of theft.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Raleigh Police Department is working to crack down on organized retail theft.

This comes as big-box stores such as Target and Walmart deal with a shoplifting crisis and are threatening to raise prices and close stores.

"You have two kinds of shoplifters," said Lt. Scott Womack, who has focused on this kind of theft for more than a dozen years for the Raleigh Police Department.

There are opportunistic ones who are just taking things for themselves.

But Womack and retailers said the organized groups are the ones who are really making a dent.

"They are going in, taking in large numbers of highly desirable items and those are the items they can resell," he said. "They're not doing it for personal use, they're getting these items to sell online or sell through an organized fence."

A fence is someone who buys stolen items to resell on a place such as Facebook Marketplace or eBay.

"It may not be the most expensive item but it's what is most desirable for consumers," he said.

RPD is encouraging retailers to provide good service and lay out their stores in a different way to combat theft.

"The petty crime is not as bad but it still affects us all," said Nicole Denny, owner of J'Adore Boutique, a consignment shop on Northwest Cary Parkway. "Businesses do raise prices to account for loss so consumers end up eating that up."

Denny's store was broken into last December and thieves took high-end handbags. Those responsible were never caught.

"There were definitely networks between North Carolina moving up the Eastern Seaboard moving up to New York so it was a larger operation than just petty theft," she said.

She said she trains her employees to be vigilant and to watch what goes in and out of the dressing room. Any theft, however, hurts a small business like hers.

"We do have quite a loyal following that comes and shops with us but inflation definitely affects how people spend their money," she said.