Jacksonville Police ready for uptick in holiday thieves

Over $136 million in cash and product was shoplifted last year, according to the Annual Retail Theft Survey.
Published: Nov. 27, 2020 at 6:39 PM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - It’s the most wonderful time of year, especially for shoplifters.

“There’s more shopping, there’s more folks out,” said Lt. Dale Silance of the Jacksonville Police Department. “There are more opportunities. So, in more cases, it’s just a crime of opportunity.”

JPD is stepping up its annual Holiday Task Force, with officers whose sole duty is to keep an eye-out for shoplifting during the holiday shopping season.

“Having those extra officers, at a minimum, is a visual deterrence,” said Silance, one of the lieutenants on the force.

The task force assigns off-duty officers in highly-shopped areas specifically to catch shoplifting and thievery. It’s an addition, so the department’s typical patrol goes un-disturbed during the season of increased thefts.

Over $136 million worth of cash and product was recovered from shoplifters and dishonest employers last year, according to the Annual Retail Theft Survey.

“I didn’t think it would be that high of a number,” said Marisol Tovar, who was shopping in Jacksonville.

“I guess, based off our area, it would be a lot lower,” said Julian Tovar of Jacksonville. “But I guess, in bigger cities, you want to be more cautious.”

Officers recommend placing items concealed in trunks, as opposed to in plain sight in a vehicle, as well as keeping bags on you at all times while shopping, and being discreet if purchasing items using cash.

“You have to watch your back. You have to watch everything,” said Brenda Jarmin, who was shopping in Jacksonville on Black Friday. “Watch your children, watch your car. Make sure when you go and get in your car, you lock your doors.”

Officers said the increase in thefts is the perfect combination of an increase in shopping, as well as letting your guard down while feeling the holiday spirit.

“They’re more so focused on what they have in front of them,” said Silance. “As opposed to really focusing on other folks and other items around them.”

The task force uses uniformed and undercover officers to catch bad guys in the act.

“When you have more people out more money being spent, ,ore packages in plain view,” said Silance. “All of those things make it just right for a crime.”

The task force will patrol until December 31.

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