Grove City police using app to track shoplifting as it happens

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Grove City formed a five-officer team in 2016 that focuses on narcotics investigations, prostitution, and retail theft. Believe it or not, police say the three crimes seem to go hand in hand.

"We're getting repeat offenders and it's not only Grove City. It's Dublin, Hilliard, Columbus," said Grove City Police Officer Mike Reber.

CrimeTracker 10 obtained rare behind-the-scenes access at a major retailer in Grove City where hundreds of surveillance cameras are helping loss prevention officers spot thieves.

Grove City police realized they could prevent thefts if retailers started sharing information.

Police linked loss prevention officers on a Group App where they can share real-time warnings when a thief is making the rounds.

The messages can include a photo of a theft suspect, a clothing description, even the make and model of the suspect's vehicle.

The numbers suggest thieves are feeling the heat.

In 2014, Grove City police investigated 475 shoplifting reports. That number rose steadily through 2016, the same year police formed the new unit.

The officer's efforts are clearly making a difference. In 2016, police investigated 661-shoplifting reports. So far this year, that number has plummeted to 424.

Police say an unprecedented 60 percent of the retail thefts that do occur are getting solved.

Grove City police say it's a step in the right direction, but say they need your help spotting shoplifters.

Officers say thieves rarely check prices or sizes and often grab multiple high-value items.

One thief recently made it out a fire escape from a major home improvement retail store with a half dozen vacuum cleaners worth thousands of dollars.

Police say honest shoppers are focused on the merchandise rather than other people.

Police say if you spot a shopper nervously and repeatedly glancing around, it's time to alert a manager.

Police say the same goes for a driver behind the wheel of a running car backed into a parking space who is craning their head to look from entrance to entrance.

Police say thieves are responsible for $13 billion worth of stolen goods in the U.S. every year.

Investigators say the bulk of the loss from retail theft is absorbed by the consumer and say that's why it's critical if you see something, say something.