Experts discuss organized retail crime trends
Over the past few weeks, retail stores across the Valley have reported an increase in blatant theft incidents, in some cases putting employees and the public in danger. Lowes in Warren had so many incidents they waited until the end of the month to file their reports in bulk rather than make regular trips to the police department.
Although it may seem like it's on the rise, CNBC's Gabrielle Fonrouge, who worked on a series exploring retail theft nationally, believes the reality is less clear.
"When you break down the statistics and crime stats, you're not actually seeing that come out," Fonrouge said.
One reason for the perceived increase may be that there has been an increase in violence along with these thefts. The National Retail Federation says 88% of retailers reported shoplifters being more aggressive and violent compared to years ago.
Ohio Council of Retail Merchants' Alex Boehnke, attributes the uptick of retail theft violence to taking advantage of a retailers hands off approach.
"The consequences are lacking at times for these types of thefts. Response times may be delayed and retailers are not going to put their associates in harms way." Boehnke said.
Retail organizations, along with Ohio Senator Mike Rulli, are pushing legislation to fight organized retail crime.