Police tracking rising shoplifting rates, holiday could bring more thefts

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 5:24 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 19 at 6:39 PM

(KMOV.com) -- Police have made a string of shoplifting arrests in O’Fallon Missouri.  News 4 began investigating if the numbers of shoplifting instances increase as the holidays approach.

Experts are divided; with some saying there is an increase in the number of shoplifters because they’re out actually stealing for the holidays, while others say there are more arrests because stores increase security.

Police reports show more than half a dozen shoplifting arrests recently at a strip mall in O’Fallon, with stolen items ranging from jewelry to clothes to a fishing pole.

Officers say the number of arrests ebbs and flows throughout the year so it’s difficult to pinpoint whether the recent increase is directly tied to the holidays.

“We do have shoplifters on our websites now. The ones arrested and charged,” said O’Fallon Officer Diana Damke. “There may be weeks when we have a couple, other weeks eight or ten.”

Some security experts say shoplifting increases because people feel obligated to provide presents when they can’t afford them.

Large winter coats often make it easier to stash stolen goods, even large items. Smaller items can be stashed in pockets and stores crowded with holiday shoppers help thieves blend in.

“The shoplifter tends to be an opportunist,” said Barbara Staib with the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. “So if they perceive the additional crowds to present opportunity for them they may be trying their hand more often.”

There’s no profile for a typical shoplifter. Men and women shoplift equally as much, and three-quarters of shoplifters are adults.

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