Overview: Since 2011, the Dover Police Department has investigated 2,773 shoplifting cases, averaging 2.5 per day. In an effort to help reduce the amount of shoplifting cases, the department will begin a weekly notification displaying the names and booking photos of those arrested. The goal of the notifications is to notify Dover merchants of offenders in hopes of being able to reduce the number of shoplifting cases. The majority of shoplifting cases are committed by repeat offenders and the department’s goal is that by releasing the information, store employees will be better informed when monitoring their stores and inventory, and suspects will think twice before stealing merchandise in fear that their name and photo will be shared with the public.
By The Numbers:
It is a common misconception that shoplifting only affects the business that was stolen from and is a petty crime. This idea could not be further from the truth. In the United States, more than $13 billion in merchandise is stolen every year; that’s more than $5 million per day. The costs of the loss and the stores increased security measures get passed on to consumers, directly affecting the incomes of honest people.
In Dover, there have been 2,773 shoplifting cases reported to the police in the last 3 years, with 920 of those coming in 2013. Some studies have shown that shoplifters are only caught 1 in 48 times. Combine those numbers with the incidents not reported to police and it’s clear that shoplifting has become a consistent problem in the City of Dover. Department’s using similar shoplifting arrest notifications have seen cases drop as much as 10% in the 1st year of the program. The feedback from merchants and the public in those respective jurisdictions has been very positive and the results can be directly tied to the notification program.
The Drug Problem:
It is the belief of the Dover Police Department that a large amount of shoplifting cases can be connected to illegal drugs. Many shoplifters are stealing goods because they have spent their income on illegal narcotics or are selling/trading the stolen goods to purchase illegal drugs. By declining the number of shopliftings and displaying the suspects, the department hopes that it will also have an effect on illegal drug activity in the City of Dover.
The department will release a photo similar to the one below on a weekly basis. This photo will be posted on the department’s website (www.doverpolice.org) and social media outlets as with all other press releases. In fact, the image is essentially another form of a traditional press release. As with any arrest, shoplifting arrests and booking photos are public information and the defendants should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Who Gets Posted?
In short, ANYONE who is 18 and over will be posted. Regardless of the dollar amount, store, or reasoning, every adult shoplifting suspect arrested will have their photo and name released. Juveniles WILL NOT have their information or photos released.
Goals of the Program:
1-The primary goal of the program is to reduce the amount of shoplifting cases in the City of Dover.
2-To notify Dover merchants of shoplifting suspects so they can more efficiently monitor their store and inventory from the intelligence they will now receive. Merchants will now be able to know what stores a suspect has stolen from, providing the ability for merchants to share information with each other in an effort to reduce loss.
3-Lessen the ability of suspects to sell/trade stolen goods for illegal drugs or money. By sharing this information, merchants, pawn shops, secondary markets (auctions/flea markets/online classifieds), and the general public will be aware of the possibility that items they purchase may have been stolen.
4-Prevent the growing price of goods directly affected by the loss a merchant incurs from shoplifting. These costs are frequently passed on to the honest consumers.
5-Identify suspects in other criminal cases. Many times, shoplifting suspects are involved in other illegal activities. By sharing their booking photo and names, it is possible that they can be identified as suspects in other cases by other law enforcement agencies, merchants, and the general public.
6- Lessen the amount of time officers spend on these complaints to focus their patrol efforts in other areas and on other crimes.
The 1st release of shoplifting suspects will begin in the month of August. The department will provide announcements through their website and social media outlets ahead of the 1st release in order to give suspects fair warning of the new program.
-Cpl. Mark Hoffman, Public Information Officer