Crime Coalition Brings Law Enforcement, Businesses Together To Fight Organized Retail Thefts

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A public-private partnership designed to stop professional thieves kicked off on Wednesday.

The Ohio Regional Organized Crime Coalition, patterned after groups in Los Angeles and Chicago, brings law enforcement and businesses together to put criminals behind bars, 10TV’s Chuck Strickler reported.

Prosecutor David Williams said that he has fought retail crime in Chicago for years. Williams spoke to businesses and law enforcement officials on Wednesday.

“Bringing these partnerships together can really make a big difference,” Williams said.

Surveillance video from a Columbus store last year captured a couple stealing items right off of a rack.

“It’s not just any one part of the country, it’s everywhere,” said Sherri Dindal of Meijer stores. “It’s a real problem for our consumers, because we have to pass that cost on some place, so the consumer ends up paying the cost.”

The National Retail Federation released a survey of 125 companies that showed that 96 percent of companies have become victims of organized retail crime in the past year, Strickler reported.

Columbus police Cmdr. Bob Meader said that organized retail crime has become more sophisticated.

“Anything they can possibility do they will use to get the product out of the store,” Meader said.

Meader said that a keychain hook is one of the newest tools. The tool disables security tags on items such as clothing.

Police said that they saw a recent instance of a thief using a bent screwdriver to pop off security tags, Strickler reported.

“I’ve seen some of the best can be in and out and steal thousands of dollars from you in minutes,” Dindal said.

The Ohio Regional Organized Crime Coalition is in the process of creating a Web site for members so they can share real-time information, like pictures and videos of suspects.

Members said that the organization makes sense when corporate and municipal budgets are strained.

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