Police, businesses call program to fight serial shoplifters a success

Police, businesses call program to fight serial shoplifters a success
(Source: KOLD News 13)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Coalition Against Retail Theft, or CART, continues to work to get serial shoplifters off the streets.

The Tucson Metro Chamber launched the program about a year ago.

Sgt. Nancy Fatura with the Tucson Police Department said they are targeting people who are stealing expensive items like liquor or laundry detergent to sell them on the street.

"We aren't talking about the person who is running in stealing a sandwich," she said.

She said the people that are coming in over and over again are usually using that money from the stolen items to participate in illegal activity.

"Repeat offenders are the people we really need to focus on," she said. "Those are the people who we are trying to get held responsible or locked away for a period of time, if that is the requirement, and we have been very effective with that."

CART has also been working to go after harsher penalties for offenders.

"People who have be arrested hundreds of times are now being charged with a felony instead of a hundred misdemeanor charges," she said.

They have been able to catch some of these people by holding monthly meetings with staff at local businesses. Frank Valadez, Kroger training asset protection specialist, is part of that group and is happy with the results so far.

"What we have seen is a growing epidemic in heroin and opioids and ... that's part of the game; that's how they make their living. They come into our stores and they take high-dollar items like Tide, liquor, things to support their habit or make a living," he said.

Tucson Metro Chamber says retail theft costs people in Pima County nearly $6 million a year.

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