More eyes on retail thieves: How police act regionally to catch criminals

Police say these photos of a man and a vehicle from a recent shoplifting at Walmart in Fairfield Twp. may be connected to the theft of a rifle from Cabela’s in West Chester Twp.
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Police say these photos of a man and a vehicle from a recent shoplifting at Walmart in Fairfield Twp. may be connected to the theft of a rifle from Cabela’s in West Chester Twp.

Local police agencies are now acting regionally to make arrests when thieves target retail stores.

What at one time may have been investigated as a singular shoplifting crime is now being looking at on a broader scale, officials said.

Last week, a suspect in a rifle theft from Cabela’s in West Chester Twp. soon became a possible suspect in shoplifting incidents at a Walmart in Fairfield Twp.

The connection was made based on store security photos shared quickly among police agencies.

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Police agencies throughout the region are meeting regularly with loss prevention officers from stores in the area as part the Organized Retail Theft Association, a sort of retail theft intelligence group.

“We talk about trends, scams they may be seeing and share information,” said West Chester Police Lt. Dave Tivin.

“This is really a part of how law enforcement has changed,” he said.

In years past, law enforcement agencies may not have known about similar area crimes until the nightly news. Now, thanks to technology and combined effort, shared information comes daily to officers’ desktops.

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That sharing of information enable West Chester Police Department to rule out their rifle theft suspect in connection to a break-in at a Mason gun store last week, he said.

“We are working smarter, not harder,” Tivin said.

The Organized Retail Theft Association began in West Chester Twp., where businesses are booming and expanding,

“We are now starting to expand it,” Tivin said. “The same person can victimize a string of stores from Beavercreek to Florence (Kentucky), so sharing information is key.”

While officers are cautious when posting information on social media, Tivin said it has also expanded the spread of information the leads to arrests.

“It is to the point now that if we post something and don’t get a response, we think something is off,” he said.

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