Monday, November 30, 2009

Stopping shoplifters

Welcome back after this long Thanksgiving weekend. I hope you and your family had a wonderful time. Maybe you checked out some of the sales retailers had to offer. As this busy shopping season gets underway, it's hard to avoid one common crime: shoplifting. Perhaps you saw the piece KCTV 5 did on the cost of shoplifting last week. If not, catch it here. We had an incident very much like this earlier this year that involved habitual shoplifters who sold their stolen goods online. The detectives and officers who stopped these thieves were honored last week with Special Unit Citations, and I want to tell you about the good work they did:

It all started with a call to the North Patrol Division station on February 5, 2009, from the loss prevention officer of the Target store on Skyview. Civilian Clerk Karen Smith answered the call and learned that a man and woman had just stolen a large amount of merchandise from both the Skyview Target and the Target in the 9200 block of Northeast Barry Road. In both instances, the couple loaded a cart or two with baby strollers, playpens and other items and left the store without paying for them.

The loss prevention officer told Civilian Smith that one of his employees had followed the suspect’s blue minivan to a home in Liberty, Missouri. Civilian Smith immediately informed Detective Mark Cassady about this, and he and Sergeant Damon Hayes enlisted the help of the officers of the 450 Sector. Sergeant Edward Lamport coordinated surveillance of the residence. Officers Cristin Stammler, Thomas Bethel and Stacey Taylor went to the Liberty home where the Target employee had followed the thieves.

The officers saw a man and woman who matched the suspects’ descriptions come out of the house and get into their van. Officer Taylor stayed at the residence while Officers Stamler and Bethel stopped the car a few miles away. Several items stolen from Target were in plain view in the van. Sergeant Hayes, Detective Cassady and Detective Darren Wilson took a statement from the Target employee and got a probable cause statement for a search warrant of the suspects’ house.

All of the afore-mentioned officers as well as Detective Randall Rund searched the home. They found 66 items stolen from Target worth more than $5,400. Both suspects said they had been stealing for several months and selling the items on the Internet.

When charges came down in both Platte and Clay counties on March 3, 2009, 450 sector officers arrested the suspects. Target management sent a letter to police praising them for their quick response, continued pursuit of charges and the recovery of thousands of dollars in merchandise.

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