STORES Magazine - April 2018 - 44
bulletin. We get the bulletin to the
retailers. This is an intelligence network
for the stores."
More than 100 such bulletins were
distributed to retailers last year.
Collier says the local judiciary is on
board with the anti-ORC efforts. He
describes one judge as a person who
"considers shoplifting a community
killer," and that he has a standard sentence
for first-time offenders but warns, "if it
happens again, you'll be sent to jail."
The Mentor theft deterrence program
has shifted the approach to some
crime-fighting tactics. Now, "We want
[retailers] to call while there is shoplifting
in progress," Collier says. The officers in
the parking lot can arrest the perpetrators
after they leave the store but before they
get into their vehicle.
Collier says such arrests have increased
while "after-the-fact" arrests have
decreased. One result is that since thieves
never make it to their car, there are
fewer getaway pursuit chases which are
dangerous for police and the public, not
to mention the thieves themselves.
Interestingly, making arrests while the
crime is in progress has not resulted in
weapons being drawn nor have there been
any hostage-takings in escape attempts,
"These guys know that if they get
caught shoplifting with a weapon on
them, it's robbery and they're smart
enough to want to avoid that," he says.
Collier says arresting officers frequently
search suspects' vehicles and often find
contraband from other stores. This is not
surprising since over the years, officers on
parking lot surveillance have learned that
"suspicious activity" includes noting a car
with two or more occupants that comes
into the lot and parks away from other
vehicles. After rustling around, one of the
occupants emerges from the vehicle with
a bag from a different store that appears
to be full of items to be returned.
"People are stealing in other stores in
other cities and returning them here,"
Collier says. "That's what the parking lot
surveillance is about."
STORES April 2018
Retail Theft Deterrence Program Statistics
Source: Mentor Police Department
In addition to the tweaks the police have
made in their handling of theft deterrence
incidents, "some of the stores have
changed their policies on returns," Collier
says. "Some are now asking for IDs or
tracking individuals with multiple returns.
Sometimes there are limits of three returns
within a certain time period. With more
valuable merchandise, they won't give a
return without a valid receipt."
Among the other changes the police have
noticed since the inception of the program
is the decline in arrests of heroin users and
other addicts and an increase in stealingfor-profit and organized retail crime.
"Some of them had lists of contacts
and were stealing to order," Collier
says. "State investigators got involved
and uncovered a fencing operation in an
Jonathan Mehn, Target's asset protection
manager for the greater Cleveland area,
says he attends the quarterly meeting with
the Mentor Police Department and loss
prevention officials from 60 or so other
retailers. "We feel it's mutually beneficial,"
Mehn says. "We appreciate what the
Mentor police are doing. We are proud to
be a part of the program. The officers are
in our store all the time, working with our
store personnel. It's been a huge benefit for
us and the community of Mentor."
The city of Mentor, which provides
75 percent of the funding for the police
department's anti-ORC program, feels
its money is being well spent, Logarusic
says. "The city is pleased to see the level
of cooperation that continues to grow
between our retail partners and Mentor
David P. Schulz has been writing for STORES
since 1982 and is the author of several