LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- At a time of increasingly brazen retail theft, Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper is calling out Target for what he describes as a lack of cooperation with law enforcement.
He posted on X about an encounter he had with the company recently in which his deputies were attempting to crack down on shoplifting.
"The first people to cry foul are the retailers going, 'Hey, theft is out of control.' Well, these big retailers just absorb the costs and simply pass them along to you," said Sgt. Amar Gandhi, a spokesperson for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office.
Cooper said Target asked for help but as they were setting up an operation at the store, they were given a series of restrictions that made the job very difficult.
"At the briefing, we were told by their head of regional security that we could not contact suspects inside the store; we could not handcuff suspects in the store; and if we arrested someone, they wanted us to (process) them outside... behind the store... in the rain. We were told they didn't want to create a scene inside the store and have people film it and put it on social media. They didn't want negative press. Unbelievable."
He added that his deputies saw a woman take items off the shelves and return them to customer service, which the store employees allowed to happen.
So have Southern California law enforcement officers had similar experiences with big retailers?
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said it's seen similar issues with big retailers.
"We're met sometimes with pushback between different stores, only because store managers may not want to prosecute because it's costly, and the store employees don't want to show up to court," said Miguel Meza, a public information officer for LASD.
And without the stores support, their hands are tied.
"We do see it affects all the stores evenly, and we unfortunately, can't do much if their policies don't help them, help us and we can work together to put these criminals away."
Eyewitness News has reached out to Target for a response.
Cooper's complaints about the company's practices come at a time when many retailers, including Target, are increasingly locking up more merchandise behind glass to prevent theft.
Social media videos have shown many retail stores hit by shoplifters and flash mobs, sometimes with no resistance at all by store employees. Some retailers are even closing stores in cities like San Francisco just because of the increase in thefts and concerns about worker safety.