WHITESTOWN, Ind. — Whitestown police acknowledge the community’s geography may give would-be shoplifters ideas.
Just of I-65 is a thick layer of ever-growing retail shopping centers. To a thief, it could be a series of targets right next to a getaway.
That’s why police in Whitestown are spending more time patrolling store parking lots.
“It’s something our officers and administration put an emphasis on”, said Captain John Jurkash. “We are over saturating patrols and putting officers around the shop centers during business hours.”
Officers from both the Whitestown Metropolitan Police Department and the Boone County Sheriff’s Office were close by when a call came in last Tuesday of two shoplifters leaving an Ulta store off Whitestown Parkway.
Between the two suspects, police recovered over $5,000 in goods from the store. Both women are from Indianapolis and now face multiple charges, including theft.
The arrests are a symptom of a huge nationwide problem that larger retail chains used to be reluctant to address. But things have changed.
Target CFO Michael Fiddelke said he expects the company’s losses due to in-store theft to be around $600 million for the year. Doug McMillion, CEO of WalMart, said increased shoplifting could lead to closures of stores and possibly higher prices.
There are multiple estimates on how much shoplifting costs retail businesses. They range from $40 billion to $70 billion annually.
The National Federation of Retailers (NFR) said the tab on shoplifting has been increasing in recent years, driven by what some call “organized crime.” This is where teams of thieves hit a store simultaneously, often targeting high-end merchandise.
NFR Vice President of Asset Protection David Johnston said the growing retail theft problem is one where there are no winners.
“The consumer is impacted through higher prices,” explained Johnston. “The retailer from a product side but also with challenges from labor and the community loses” through diminished sales tax revenues and possibly closed stores and lost jobs.
Police in Whitestown are aware of the stakes and will continue to keep an eye on it’s ever-expanding retail sector.