The Dover Police Department saw a 19% drop in shoplifting complaints since beginning the Shoplifter Notification Program on August 7th, 2014. The program which posts mug-shots of persons arrested for shoplifting on a weekly basis on the department website and social media outlets, has helped to reduce shoplifting incidents during the 4-month trial period. The reduction in shoplifting incidents during the trial period also led to a 12% drop for the entire calendar year compared to 2013 numbers and bringing the total number of shoplifting cases below 1,000 for the first time since 2010.
From 2011 through 2013, the Dover Police Department investigated 3,290 shoplifting cases, averaging 3 per day during that time period. In an effort to help reduce the amount of shoplifting cases in the City of Dover, the department began the weekly notifications, 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 that suspects will think twice before stealing merchandise in fear that their name and photo will be shared with the public. The method has shown to be successful based on the end of year numbers for 2014 and has also led to arrests in unsolved crimes, including unsolved shoplifting cases and the identification of suspects in various other cases.
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 3,290 shoplifting cases reported to the police in the last 3 years, with 1,101 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. After seeing a 19% drop in the 4-month trial period and a 12% overall drop for the full year of 2014, the Dover Police Department is pleased with the program’s success and will continue the program for the foreseeable future. The feedback from merchants and the public in the City of Dover has largely been positive and the results can be directly tied to the notification program.
A sample of the weekly shoplifting notifications by the Dover Police Department