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Posted: 4:42 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Charlotte police are battling a big spike in shoplifting cases this summer.
In some parts of the city, shoplifting cases are four times higher than they were this time last year.
Now, several police divisions are working together to deal with the problem.
Citywide statistics show that shoplifting cases are up by about 20 percent.
That's why officers this month have been busy visiting different retail stores, hoping to get new leads.
Officer Danielle Williams showed us 27 faces on her computer screen, the faces of men and women accused of shoplifting near the South Carolina state border in August.
"I send this out to all the stores in the area," she said. "This is actually a really short list, sometimes this list is six pages long."
In South Charlotte's Steele Creek division, there have been 48 cases of shoplifting since July 1. That's a 33 percent increase from last summer.
"It's the same people committing the crimes over and over and over again," said Officer Williams.
Officers said they're part of organized retail crime rings that steal clothes, medicine and hygiene products, and electronics.
Police said it costs businesses tens of thousands of dollars every month.
Because of this summer's increase, officers in South Charlotte have been visiting different retail stores daily, showing mug shots and reviewing surveillance video with managers.
"I make sure to highlight that person and say to them, 'This person has hit lots of different stores in this area, if you see him, be on the lookout,'" said Williams.
Those interactions paid off recently. A tip led police to arrest Reginald Weathers, who's accused of stealing thousands of dollars of clothes from Belk and other retailers throughout the city.
Police last year also formed a new unit dedicated to keeping track of repeat offenders.
Back in May, Eyewitness News rode along with the "Trap Unit" as detectives worked to build cases on shoplifters and keep them behind bars.
While shoplifting cases are up this year, officers point out they're also making more arrests than ever before.
Last year, CMPD made 450 arrests for shoplifting, and they expect to make even more this year.
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