An investigation has revealed that crime bosses may be taking advantage of Washington's lax laws regarding theft to recruit vulnerable persons into doing their crimes for them. These crime bosses realize that oftentimes, shoplifters are rarely actually prosecuted, so they can almost guarantee to the people working for them that they will not get caught or charged.
Homeless and Drug Addicts Targeted for Dirty Work
Big box home improvement stores see a significant number of shoplifting incidents involving high-dollar ticket items such as power tools. Sometimes thieves will even load up an entire cart full of these pricey items and walk right out the doors to a car that is waiting for them. Homeless people and addicts are often recruited to do the shoplifting in exchange for quick cash with no consequences.
Much of the stolen goods are then either sold online through sites like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist, or they are taken to pawn shops. Sometimes the thieves are told to return the item they stole to the store in exchange for gift cards, which then can be sold at a marked-up price on the internet. The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention estimates that nearly $50 billion goes out the door in retail crime every year.
Taking Advantage of the Law
In Washington, a person suspected of shoplifting cannot be stopped until they actually walk out of the store. In other words, if a big box security employee sees a person with a cart loaded with twenty power saws, they cannot confront that person inside the store. The security guard would only be able to try and stop the person once they walked out the doors, but then that could lead to endangering the public if the thief is trying to jump into a getaway car.
Washington lawmakers want to change the definition of theft to allow for either store loss prevention officers or the police to intervene with someone who is concealing merchandise, but there may not be enough support on both sides of the legislature to support this.
Many of the big box merchandisers have been coming up with ways to combat theft that won't interfere with regular shoppers' experiences. Some of these methods include installing more security cameras inside the store, instructing employees to ask shoppers, “May I help you?” (which indicates that they have been spotted and noticed), and installing spider packaging on smaller items, and keeping big-ticket items behind glass doors that can only be opened by employees.
Theft Defense Attorney
Theft costs money not just to retailers, but to all of us. But if you have been mistakenly accused of theft, all is not lost. Steve Karimi, a former prosecutor turned criminal defense attorney, understands the system and will work aggressively to get any charges of theft either lessened or dismissed. Contact his office today to learn how the Law Offices of Steve Karimi can help you.