Mt. Juliet police said shoplifting has been an issue on the rise throughout the city with a 37 percent increase in the offense from 2012 to 2013.
Police said so far this month they have responded to 16 shoplifting incidents and charged 11 people with shoplifting.
With those numbers, police are now engaging in new strategies to help limit the growing trend. Police said efforts include educating retail staff on the crime, implementing a zero tolerance approach to shoplifters and launching a Retail Text Alert program.
Thanks to the zero tolerance approach, shoplifters in Mt. Juliet now will not only find the offense inconvenient, but officers have also been instructed to take shoplifters to jail in lieu of issuing a simple misdemeanor citation to the offender. Previously, offenders would only be issued a citation for shoplifting if it was not a felony and would be able to walk away shortly after completing some paperwork.
Police said the new concept would allow police to arrest and transport the shoplifter directly to jail, making the crime “much more inconvenient and less desirable.”
“We want to create an environment in our retail community that is very difficult for shoplifters to be successful,” Police Chief James Hambrick said. “By providing more resources to our merchants and making it more difficult to shoplift in our community, I am hoping that we can lower the occurrence of shoplifting.”
To assist in educating business owners and managers on shoplifting, Mt. Juliet police’s Command Staff members began meeting with merchants at the beginning of the month in Providence Marketplace and Paddocks retail developments to share and teach valuable information and knowledge. They discussed topics such as how to spot a shoplifter, preventing shoplifting and prosecuting shoplifting, police said. Business owners and managers were also provided with educational material and information to pass on to their employees.
Police also said they are launching a Retail Text Alert program in order to ensure awareness of active shoplifters. Through the program a text message is sent to retail managers and loss prevention staff as soon as officers respond to an area store for a crime. Alerts would usually include the location of the crime, suspect description and what items were being targeted, police said.
“Shoplifters do not just target one store, and they hit many stores in the area,” Sergeant Tyler Chandler said. “If someone is targeting our stores, we want to ensure we get the word out so we can prevent other crimes from occurring.”
To register for the Retail Text Alert program, retail mangers and loss prevention staff can contact Community Policing Coordinator James Christensen at 615-773-6253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.