Chico PD & Retailers Take A Stand Against Shoplifting
February 20, 2018 CHICO, CA The Chico Police Department, Chico Chamber of Commerce, and Downtown Chico Business Association announced today that a “Retail Watch” program has formed to convene retailers and the Chico Police Department to combat shoplifting in Chico. The Retail Watch program will begin with monthly meetings between retailers and the Chico Police Department and will expand to include information sharing, arrest data, and possibly signage for participating businesses. Retail businesses of all sizes throughout Chico are encouraged to participate by calling the Chico Chamber (530.891.5556) for dates, times, and locations of the monthly meetings with representatives from the Chico Police Department. RSVPs are required to ensure adequate space.
The initiative began with a series of Retail Roundtable meetings hosted by the Chamber and DCBA for businesses and the Chico Police Department in December of 2017 and January of 2018. At these meetings, retailers shared loss data and expressed concerns about increasing theft and decreasing accountability. A feeling of helplessness prevailed, with losses pushing up local prices, stifling job growth, and impacting consumers. Larger retailers frequently employ Loss Prevention officers who take preventative measures to deter theft, but businesses of all sizes are often left reacting to the troubling increase of petty crime in Chico.
Chico Police Chief Michael O’Brien decided monthly meetings were in order to open regular lines of communications between the Chico PD and large and small retailers in Chico. With individual businesses reporting losses of up to $250K/year from shoplifting alone, the Chief declared this issue a priority during his “Year of Accountability.”
Chief O’Brien says, “Even businesses that are the hardest hit need encouragement to report these crimes and be willing to prosecute. We often see that a shoplifting charge, even for minor theft, can result in an arrest for felony warrants or other crime. A recent shoplifting arrest at Kohl’s, following a Retail Roundtable meeting, is a perfect example of that happening. As Chief, I find shoplifting and other theft unacceptable in Chico and want to send a strong message that we as a community will no longer tolerate it.”
Katie Simmons with the Chico Chamber says convening the Retail Roundtable meetings over the last few months was revelatory. “I had no idea the cumulative negative affect shoplifting was having on our local economy and community. We certainly hear about it on business walks but when you gather retailers together and hear the magnitude of loss they’re grappling with – it puts the issue in a whole new light. Watching businesses and the Chico PD work together on this issue by sharing information and learning best practices protects our retail workforce, property, and keeps prices as low as possible for local consumers. Businesses often say that raising prices is the only way they can compensate for financial losses resulting from shoplifting. It’s not only dispiriting, it’s an unnecessary drain on local consumers.”
Melanie Bassett with the DCBA says, “Small retailers are often the most vulnerable to shoplifting – not having the loss prevention resources many bigger retailers have. Sometimes with only one person in the store running the cash register, a business has absolutely no means to protect itself from theft. We want small retailers to have the same access to the Chico PD and to tools and practices that are available. Plus, theft makes everyone uncomfortable and we need to stand together and say it’s not acceptable in Chico.”
Nate Dippery, Loss Prevention Manager with Lowe’s says, “I’m happy the Chico Police Department is being proactive with the Retail Watch program. Businesses often feel they’re operating alone when it comes to combating theft, when in reality a few simple opportunities to share information could make a big difference.”
Retailers interested in participating in the Retail Watch meetings are encouraged to call the Chico Chamber for meeting details and to RSVP: 530.891.5556. Meetings are open to retail owners, managers, employees, and loss prevention officers. Meetings will be held monthly through 2018 beginning in February.