Millard County is facing a rising problem amongst its businesses: shoplifting.
Business owners and law enforcement have noticed a rising uptick in the crime, notably in Delta City.
“I’m at the end of my rope with it,” said Bruce Curtis, a local business owner. “It’s a disease.”
Curtis, who owns and operates Courtesy Ace, says shoplifting at his business has risen over the past few years, and affects everyone involved.
“It affects everyone in town,” he said. “The man hours to prosecute goes up, we lose man hours in the process, and the only monetary refund we get is the monetary price of stolen items.”
Ace loses an estimated $50,000 to $60,000 in lost revenue, Curtis said. Other factors, like shorted invoices or items not getting scanned make a small part, but the biggest problem comes from retail theft.
According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, approximately 27 million people in American shoplift—roughly one in 27 people. Ten million have been caught shoplifting in the past five years.
Local statistics, while not as necessarily broad, are still on the rise. From Jan. 1 to Aug. 14 of this year, three people were prosecuted in the Millard County Justice Court for theft. In the same time period, 13 people were prosecuted in Delta City Justice Court, according to Delta City Judge Deb Haveron.
Curtis said due to the frequency of offenses, light warnings are a thing of the past. “We’re not messing around anymore,” he said. “We prosecute everyone we catch stealing.”
Perpetrators are typically caught once and trespassed from the store after being turned into law enforcement, Curtis said. “We’re done with it. We don’t have any tolerance for it.”
Shoplifting isn’t specific to demographics either; children and adults have been caught committing retail theft. Adults, however, are the biggest group of offenders, making up 75 percent of statistics, according to NASP.
The crime is typically not premeditated, but it is highly addictive, NASP reports. Past drug addicts have allegedly said they were easily addicted to shoplifting—the rush of adrenaline is similar to a high.
Surveillance cameras help to monitor and catch perpetrators, Curtis said. “Our computer systems tell us how much merchandise is on the shelves, so we’re able to keep track of inventory. “
Typically, items are stolen after being removed from packaging, leaving empty containers on the shelves, and tricking the system into thinking an item is still available.
“When that happens we typically go back and look through camera footage and find the person responsible,” Curtis said.
Local retailers will be holding a luncheon discussing shop lifting and ways to prevent this epidemic. It will be held at the R.J. Law Community Center on Tuesday, September 18.
More articles on shoplifting in Millard County will be published in upcoming weeks.