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Shoplifters costing consumers big bucks

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 05 2012 04:22:49 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 05 2012 05:25:04 PM CST

Shoplifters costing consumers big bucks

WYOMISSING, Pa. -

Shoplifters are running rampant this holiday season, and shoppers are left footing the bill.

It's one of the nation's fastest growing crimes, and thanks to thieves, retailers are expected to lose billions in the coming weeks.

"The end of September right up to the holiday and a little beyond, we'll see a market increase in retail thefts," said Officer David Bentz, Exeter Township Police Department.

According to a new study by the Centre for Retail Research, retailers are expected to lose nearly $8.9 billion over the holiday season because of shoplifting and employee theft.

That loss is expected to tack on about 98 extra bucks this year on each family's shopping tab.

"I think it's a shame that the consumers have to pay the price," said Mary Harris, a frequent shopper.

The thieves are bold, filling up carts and walking right out the door.

According to police, that's what happened at Target in Muhlenberg Township, Berks Co., last week. Seven women are accused of stealing $2,700 worth of merchandise in an hour's time.

Now, retailers like the VF Outlets in Wyomissing are fighting back.

"There is no doubt someplace sometime you're going to be coming across the video screen," said Jeff Kistler, manager of loss prevention and safety traffic services at the outlets.

The outlets are equipped with more than 70 surveillance cameras. Shoppers can be seen on the floor and in the parking lot, and they're being watched closely. The VF Outlets average 165 arrests from shoplifting a year.

"Don't think this is going to be your answer, because we will get you," said Kistler.

With shoplifting on the rise, police said they plan to be around stores more often this season.