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With some 30 outlets in Southern Nevada, Smith's grocery stores have decided to take a stand against shoplifting and the thieves who are ransacking locations.
Starting the third week of October, Smith's has decided to take the upper hand and confront thieves through undercover work.
According to a pair of sources with Smith's has determined it has had enough of the continued theft in their stores by addressing the problem head-on. While most retail outlets do have cameras, most businesses have taken a wait-and-see stand attitude.
"We just kind of tell them to have a good day," said one frustrated employee. "To this point, shoplifters simply fill up a cart and walk right out the front door. It's sickening especially because we havenít been able to do anything about it."
In one case, the employee said self checkout stands have been especially vulnerable and on one occasion, the worker couldn't resist addressing a shoplifter.
"We had a guy go through the self checkout line and I knew he had steaks hidden in the bottom of the cart," she said. "So I said to him, 'Sir would you like for me to get you a couple of bottles of wine to go with those steaks you have at the bottom of your cart?'"
While most employees have been told not to challenge suspected thieves and simply let them go on their merry way, those interesting in ripping off Smith's can - and probably will - be nailed on the spot by the undercover security guard.
However, the guard won't be just telling the accused to stop in his or her tracks. In this case, Smith's security personnel will also ticket the offender in what should serve as a huge deterrent. If nothing else, the deterrent should at least slow down the shoplifting/theft that is running absolute rampant throughout the nation.
"It's a very strong program," explained one Smith's store manager. "From now on out, the individual will be issued a ticket for the theft. The thief must then report to court while also paying a $700 fine.
For way too long, thieves have wandered into various retail outlets knowing full-well that they will encounter no confrontations simply because executives in Retail America have determined it's easier to let the thief go than it is to stop the continual thievery. If the thieves have a receipt found in the parking lot or in the garbage, all he or she usually has to do is match the receipt with merchandise taken from a particular outlet before often finding a way to get refunded for merchandise that was stolen.
In fact, still some store employees have chosen to attempt to stop shoplifters in the past year in Las Vegas. The practice is frowned upon by industry executives who worry about the safety of both employees and customers who find themselves smack dab in the middle of theft when attempting to stop the practice.
In addition, at least one executive from the retail business said he doubted that Smithís new approach would work.
"People who steal donít care about getting a ticket," the executive said. "They just ignore it and go on with their lives. Trying to stop them never worked for us at our store."
In the meantime, the thieves continue to riddle the retail business through several avenues ranging from pocketing merchandise before heading out the door; or simply finding cash receipts before gathering up the merchandise before approaching a cashier for full returns.
In addition, the retail industry is throttled by thieves who simply advertise the merchandise on E bay for a quick sale. In one case, a Las Vegas theft detective said thieves often collect the stolen merchandise before stock piling it in apartments where buyers of black market merchandise eventually find their way to locations.
In the meantime, untold millions of dollars in stolen merchandise drives up costs so that the honest customers can pick up the difference through added prices.
To a degree, theft has generally been an accepted way of life to retailers although it has been reported that one other business utilizes its cameras to spot thieves before calling Metro Police detectives with evidence to make an arrest.
However, one thing is for sure: At least Smith's is giving it a try hoping that enough shoplifters will take heed to a plan that will show thieves the door without an armload of goods under their arms or overfilling a cart.
With the holidays just around the corner, Lord knows retailers need some kind of game plan to compete against thieves that are hitting very profitable homeruns with stolen merchandise.
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