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Retail watch program works to reduce shoplifting in Chico

Retailer watch group forms community partnership with law enforcement to stop shoplifting.

Posted: Mar 26, 2018 9:23 AM
Updated: Mar 27, 2018 8:19 AM

Shoplifting is a growing problem Chico, and community leaders say they've had enough.

Matt Smith, owner of Sports LTD - has been in the retail business since 1985.

One ongoing economic challenge he says he continually faces …shoplifting.

"We're seeing it at least weekly, and mostly, several days a week," said Smith.

And when product isn't taken, he says it is sometimes destroyed.

"They're coming in, destroying products, to get the security tags off, just being a real nuisance," said Smith.

Smith is not alone. Many local retail businesses, from clothing stores, big-box outlets, supermarkets to downtown shops - many are reporting HUGE losses.

Some outlets are seeing upwards of $250,000 a year worth of products, walk out the door.

So In efforts to combat the criminal activity, the Chico Police Department, the Downtown Chico Business Association and the Chamber of Commerce have partnered - forming a "Retail Watch" program.

Katie Simmons leads the Chico Chamber of Commerce

"A lot of larger stores will have loss prevention officers, a lot of smaller stores won't so we see a lot of 'best practices' sharing in this meetings, for the larger community when we have some much theft, we calculated is in the millions in our community, you'll see prices going up to try to compensate for some of that loss, you'll see a suppression of job growth because the retailers aren't able to hire because they're covering those losses," said Simmons.

The Retail Watch program is designed to educate local retailers on how to protect themselves, with advice and direction DIRECTLY from Chico Police Department's Chief O'Brien.

"He's encouraged us to cite and arrest everyone that we catch ... I love catching guys that have other things going on in their life that are illegal so maybe we can get them off the street, and it gets the words out that we don't tolerate it at all," said Smith.

Downtown business owner Teri Dubose -says her store has also been affected by shoplifting. She supports the efforts.

"We all have different issues and I think it's getting better by putting these type of things together," said DuBose.

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