Orange County stores seeing uptick in retail theft ahead of holidays

David González Image
Wednesday, November 23, 2022
OC retailers seeing more organized theft as holidays approach
The Orange County Sheriff's Department says as the holiday season approaches investigators are seeing a rise in organized retail thefts.

With the holidays just over a month away shoppers have their own strategies to tackle busy stores and shopping centers.

Lusero Lucas said, "For sure during the week early in the morning. That's when we know usually when people don't want to wake up so early so we try to get to be the first people in here."

Also, Kim Farrell said, "I love to kind of keep an eye out for good deals all year long so if I see a good deal I kind of start stockpiling a little pile in the garage and then usually Black Friday."

As the holiday shopping season gets underway Orange County Sheriff's Department Captain Christopher McDonald warns of an uptick in retail thefts.

"In the last eight weeks or so we've arrested 14 people that were responsible for over 50 incidents of theft here in the city of Mission Viejo. And those people that were arrested were also responsible for thefts in other states and other counties," McDonald said.

He said that's resulted in about $43,000 in stolen property.

Target, other retailers reporting jump in retail theft ahead of holiday shopping season

Ahead of the holiday shopping season, Target and other major retailers are seeing big jumps in thefts this year, costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

"Typically when you think of the regular shoplifter you're thinking of the 16 year old that really wants a sweatshirt and just can't resist taking it," McDonald said. "These are actually people that are very organized going shopping center to shopping center and committing high-value thefts."

The sheriff's department said they're working closely with loss-prevention officers at retailers to catch thieves in the act.

Meanwhile, shoppers like Lucas say they'll do what they can to avoid becoming a victim of theft.

"We never leave the cart alone especially with a baby so we just make sure nobody gets near us and if there's a big crowd we just walk on by. It's not worth it," she said.

McDonald said while it's easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit while shopping it's important to stay aware of your surroundings and to report suspicious activity as soon as you see it.

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