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Retailers Take Action Against Shoplifting

Rexburg merchants and law enforcement have formed a gro called Partners Against Retail Theft to meet monthly and confront the rising issue of shoplifting by sharing valuable information.

The program is basically mass information sharing. If a person of interest is spotted or an issue comes in a store, that information is then shared at the monthly meeting, or through e-mail, according to Captain Randy Lewis of the Rexburg Police Department.

The network reaches across the West and is something business owners appreciate.

“We saw a need for a retailers association. [Now] we can identify problems of loss and see if they are the same in other stores,” said Matt Wach, Kmart loss prevention manager and chairman of PART.

The information goes both ways. Whether it’s retailer to retail, law enforcement to retailer or retailer to law enforcement, the sharing of information has proved helpful in multiple cases.

“There was a gro of people going around filling a basket full of jeans, and some of them would distract the associate while the others pushed the cart out,” Wach said. “PART goes over how people have attempted or are attempting theft.”

So far there are nearly a dozen local retailers that come to meetings and exchange information. This program is a way for them to protect their businesses and obtain useful information. But the program doesn’t just end at the city limits.

 “We’re always looking to expand the program. Our networks reach Idaho Falls, Boise, Utah and California. There are similar programs in other states as well,” said Lieutenant Randy Haderlie of the Rexburg Police Department.

Among the local retailers that show to meetings are employees from the BYU–Idaho bookstore.

“The bookstore has been a very willing participant. After they extended the bookstore, they noticed that they were getting hit pretty hard and just because the population at BYU–I is Mormon, doesn’t mean everyone has the right morals,” Wach said.

Wach said that 60 percent of the people he stops at his store for suspected shoplifting are students from BYU–I.

“What that says is that even if it’s only 1 percent of the school stealing, there are still 130 students that have moral issues and 130 students can be a huge amount of hurt on the community,” Wach said.

PART provides a way for businesses like the bookstore to track down student thefts because of their information sharing.

“If you’re going to do it, your picture is going to get out there and you’re going to get caught,” Haderlie said.

If businesses are interested in getting involved, the next meeting will be held Oct. 20 at the Rexburg Police Department and prospective members can contact the police department for more information.





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