So let’s talk about our Anti-Shoplifting campaign. We have been at this for a couple of months now and have received an overwhelming amount of support and some negativity surrounding our anti-shoplifting efforts. Some say we are shaming people, others are saying that we are convicting them in a court of public opinion before their day in court or we are violating their civil rights.
People need to understand that we have a very good grasp on the Freedom of Access laws and what we can and can’t say. Any arrest information that we post to our Facebook page is, in fact, public information. The law allows for us to release certain information when someone is arrested. Our shoplifting posts are no different than press releases we do for high profile arrests, the information is the same. Mugshots are public information. We generate a daily arrest log for the media. The local paper publishes this information on almost a daily basis in their police log. We are posting public information.
Why make the effort to post shoplifting arrests? Our number one goal in our shoplifting campaign is one of deterrence. It’s our hope that one will think twice before shoplifting in Auburn knowing they run the risk of showing up on Facebook. Shoplifting is not a victimless crime. Businesses lose millions of dollars a year to “shrinkage.” It’s a real thing, just ask George Costanza! Who pays for that? Consumers.
Why is Auburn Police making such a fuss about it? Cause it’s a lot of work!! In 2017, we charged 333 people with theft due to shoplifting. Those 333 people stole almost $70,000 in merchandise. This gets reflected in Auburn’s crime rate. (We will talk more about our crime rate in the near future once Dept. of Public Safety releases 2017 crime statistics). Auburn is a regional service center for the tri-county area with a large retail district. In 2017, only 25% of the people we charged with shoplifting were Auburn residents. Yup, 25%. Do the numbers, that means 250 people came to Auburn and shoplifted. We want to send the message, come to Auburn to shoplift, you will go to jail and the public will see why you went to jail. Don’t shoplift and you won’t go to jail! It really is that simple.
So, let’s dispel a couple of myths that are out there. Nope, we aren’t sitting at the stores monitoring security systems; we respond to the stores at the request of loss prevention personnel, who have already made an apprehension for shoplifting. These folks are skilled at what they do. They can ferret out the legitimate self-scan issues and apprehend those who are blatantly stealing. We chuckle at some of the defenses that get posted in response to our arrest posts. Yes: self-checkout stations are the bane of our existence. Why? Because people who may not have the courage to steal something and conceal it while facing a cashier can certainly have the courage to steal when they think no one is watching.
Folks, people are NOT being arrested for self-scan errors. Loss Prevention can very easily weed those out. People are being arrested for blatantly skip-scanning items. One person who recently appeared on our wall stated something to the effect of: “I scanned everything in my cart and something got missed and I was arrested for it.” Fact: loss prevention personnel have you on video shopping throughout the store, placing the item in the very front of your cart. Leaving that item in the cart while scanning everything else in the cart, and once you completed the transaction, you placed the one item you didn’t scan IN YOUR PURSE and attempted to walk out of the store, where you were apprehended by loss prevention.
So, there you have it. Hopefully we’ve answered some questions and filled in some blanks. Enjoy the day! Oh, and PLEASE don’t shoplift in Auburn. 😉