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Operation Free Ride 2017

Preventing retail theft is a very serious issue that is often overlooked. Shoplifting should not be treated as an irrelevant misdemeanor charge, especially seeing as how many people charged with shoplifting are also often found to be burglars, drug dealers, and even sexual predators. To take action against Organized Retail Crime, the criminals who are stealing $30 billion annually in the United States, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office has launched the Operation Free Ride 2017 initiative to deter the offenders in Polk County. From May 25-27, the sheriff’s office partnered with nine different businesses and made 29 arrests of people attempting to shoplift from stores in Polk County. Forty total charges were filed against the 29 suspects. The suspects ranged ages 14-65, and 16 of the 29 had a criminal history prior to the arrests made forshoplifting. The PCSO is making it a priority to focus on shoplifting, and not just as a misdemeanor anymore.

We are sending this warning out to everyone: if you shoplift in Polk County, you will go to jail.

To help prevent theft, retailers should know some of the following tips: Potential shoplifters will often spend more time watching what the cashier is doing than browsing the merchandise.

Bulky clothes, especially during these summer months, should be an immediate red flag. Potential thieves may attempt to hide products in their clothes.

Implement the following: Greet every customer who enters the store.

Be available to all customers and never leave the store unattended.

Approach customers and offer your assistance.

Reinforce good customer service while reminding potential shoplifters that they are being watched.

Be sure to schedule an adequate number of employees to work.

Alert other employees of suspicious persons/activities.

Use mirrors to eliminate blind spots in corners that might hide shoplifters.

Adequate lighting, a neatly kept store,and full displays will make it easier to see if anything is missing.

Keep displays at a lower level than the cashier for better visibility.

Avoid displaying small articles near the store exit.

Keep more valuable items in locked cabinets or behind the counter.

Reinforce security with signs indicating that shoplifters will be prosecuted.

Require receipts for exchanges or refunds.

Inspect large items/boxes/purses to ensure smaller ones are not concealed.

Locate the register in a strategic place so that customers must pass it to exit the store. Never leave the register unlocked or unattended.

Thank you for the support you give to the PCSO. With the support of the community, we are able to combat crimes like shoplifting more effectively.

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