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Shoplifting arrests spike over holiday weekend

Thefts reported at Walmart, Home Depot, Sears, Kohl's and Claire's

POSTED: July 6, 2011 12:16 a.m.

The holiday weekend saw an unusual spike in the number of shoplifting cases as Gainesville Police tallied at least 13 arrests.

Walmart reported eight thefts, Home Depot reported two and Sears, Kohl's and Claire's each reported one.

According to Gainesville Police spokesman Kevin Holbrook, theft numbers often increase around holidays when stores step up security efforts.

"It's spread all over the board," he said.

"I wouldn't say there's one age group we see more frequently. They range from juveniles to seniors, from the homeless to the working. And we've arrested them for stealing everything from food to electronics."

Though the police are the ones who put offenders behind bars, Holbrook said it's usually up to the stores to catch the bad guys.

"They usually have these suspects apprehended well before we arrive. So it's a pretty simple and easy process for us," he said.

"The stores do most of the leg work. We simply show up, transport and do an incident report. It's up to the actual stores and loss prevention management to make the case. They're the only ones who go to court and they're the ones who prosecute the case."

When Jason Sarnes was arrested and charged with shoplifting at Home Depot on Saturday, he was already in handcuffs by the time police arrived, according to the report.

But catching shoplifters isn't as easy as department stores may make it look.

Holbrook didn't want to give away too many methods, but he said law enforcement routinely works with stores to train them about what to look for.

"We have close working relationships with the businesses here in town," he said.

"Criminals are constantly changing the way they work so we have to change the way we work. We work with loss prevention experts and local management to keep them up to date as far as what's going on."

 



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