Thousands of dollars’ in merchandise has been stolen from area stores in a recent string of retail thefts in Mantua.
A number of the thefts are documented in the police department monthly crime logs posted on the township Facebook page.
“As you can see by the crime log that we put out every month,” said police Lt. Brian Hauss at the Nov. 13 Mantua committee meeting, “we’re getting hammered with retail theft. Our guys have been real busy with that. But it kind of goes with the economy and the way things have been going.”
The thefts have tended to occur at large chain stores like the Mantua Target on Woodbury- Glassboro Road and Kohl’s on the Bridgeton Pike. In one case on Oct. 5, suspects in an organized theft ring stole $15,000 worth of merchandise from Kohl’s that was later recovered when the suspects were arrested, according to that month’s crime log.
In the case of Target, police apprehended a would-be shoplifter during the annual Coffee with a Cop event on Oct. 10 at the store Starbucks.
“Although retail theft is not a new thing, obviously, people do seem to be more brazen these days with simply walking out of the stores with carts full of stolen merchandise,” said Police Chief Darren White.
“Loss prevention (staff) at the larger chain stores have gotten significantly better at tracking the thefts and suspects,” he added. “However, oftentimes policy for other employees is not to contact police themselves when they witness a shoplifting incident. Instead, they have to report it to their own loss prevention, who may or may not be on scene, causing delays.”
The Mantua police detectives bureau has formed a shoplifting task force, but according to Hauss, store involvement is a major part of success in prosecuting suspects.
“With that said, when notified, loss prevention builds large files on individuals that are known to shoplift and keeps an eye out for them in all of their stores with a shared information system,” he explained.
“In Mantua, we have a detective and patrol bureau that are active in these types of investigations to the extent that the stores are willing to assist them,” Hauss added. “They oftentimes do their own stakeouts rather than wait for a store to call (police).
“We are doing the best we can with everything we have to work with, but store involvement is a big part of a successful prosecution.”