Rise in brazen thefts in CT, across the country has police departments increasing their presence at stores

Crime

SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) – An increase in brazen thefts has been reported at stores across the country, including here in Connecticut. In some cases, it has turned violent, putting store employees and customers at risk.

Police in Southington are working to catch those responsible.

There was an urgent call to Southington police for help from the manager of the BJ’s in town. In the surveillance video, you can see the suspects loading TVs into their cars.

These types of thefts are becoming more common and dangerous than before, putting retailers on high alert. Southington Police Lt. Keith Egan says they’re looking into whether this crime is linked to similar incidents at other BJ’s locations in the state.

“People are going into the store and are way more brazen than they used to be in the past. They’re loading either shopping carts or just straight up carrying merchandise out of the store,” Lt. Egan said.

Most recently, at the Stop & Shop, Southington police say a group of people tried to leave without paying, taking paper towels and diapers. They were confronted by an employee.

“He stopped them simply to ask if they had paid for the merchandise. The male who was pushing the shopping cart went and knocked him to the ground, causing a head injury,” Lt. Egan said.       

This isn’t just happening in Connecticut, it’s a trend retailers are seeing all across the country. A study from the National Retail Federation found 69 percent of retailers saw an increase in organized retail crime over the past year. They cited several reasons for this uptick, including the pandemic and growth of online marketplaces.

“The opportunity is there, and people are seizing the opportunity to steal this stuff,” Lt. Egan said.

If you see one of the thefts in action, police say not to intervene. Instead, call 911 right away and alert a store employee.

“The sooner someone calls 911, the sooner we can get there, the sooner we can make an arrest,” Lt. Egan said.

Southington police say they’ll be increasing their presence around the retailers even more as we enter the holiday season. They are urging anyone with information about any of the incidents to call police right away.

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