By Blake Essig
6:12 PM AKST, November 25, 2012
With Black Friday in the books and Christmas right around the corner, retailers all over are gearing up for the busy holiday shopping season. As more people come and go from local stores, the threat of commercial theft is a major concern for retailers and police.
"Some people think ‘oh I can get away with it’ or ‘I've gotten away with it several times,’” said APD Spokesperson Lt. Dave Parker. “Well sooner or later, you will be caught, I guarantee it.”
During the holiday season, statistics show that retail crime rates increase by 30%. Just last year, the National Retail Federation reported that 95% of stores have been victimized by retail crime.
"It’s something that a lot of folks don’t quite understand,” said Lt. Parker. “Once you get caught and convicted of even a small thing like shoplifting, you're branded as a thief for the rest of your life.”
For the Home Depot in midtown Anchorage, the shoplifting problem was so bad last holiday season that this year it decided to crack down.
Home Depot Operations Manager Zach Greenough said, "We have someone out on the sales floor at all times incognito picking out those people that either have suspicious behavior, look suspicious or people that we know of from being here in the past."
The hardware store also said it’s adding more staff during the holiday season, and implemented a new return system that tracks ID’s and returns and connects people who might be working together. All with the hope of sending a message to shoplifters that no matter where you are, someone is always watching.
“You’re going to get caught and you’re going to go to jail,” said Greenough. “We don’t mess around, we prosecute to the fullest extent that we can.”
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