Out of uniform, Gainesville police officers will blend in with plain clothes at shopping centers to monitor potential shoplifters and thieves.
Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said the department began using the tactic around the holidays last year as a way to deter entering auto crimes at the major shopping centers. The program’s success, Holbrook said, led them to try it again this year.
“We’re trying to get as creative as possible when trying to prevent crimes,” Holbrook said.
The department broadcast the plans on social media as a way to “give a warning that we’re going to be out there.”
According to Gainesville Police stats, the department had 343 shoplifting reports in 2015. As of Thursday, the number of reports has surpassed last year’s total already with 366 shoplifting reports.
Though no sole factor can explain the increase, Holbrook said the commercial growth over the last year has played a part. The department works with businesses in an educational facet on how to prevent shoplifting.
“If they notice things, they tend to increase their asset protection or loss prevention staff, too,” Holbrook said.