Rising drug use contributes to increased shoplifting in our area

The National Retail Federation predicts it will get a lot worse
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 5:57 PM CDT
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Brown County, Wis. (WBAY) - A rise in shoplifting cases is becoming an issue in our area. On Wednesday, three people were arrested in Brown County for retail theft charges. Nationally, stores lost an estimated $86 billion to retail theft last year and the National Retail Federation predicts that number will rise by an additional fourteen billion by the end of this year.

Ashwaubenon Public Safety says the increase in thefts is heavily tied to an increase in drug use in our area. Capt. Brian Amenson says a large number of thefts are committed by those struggling with drug addiction looking for quick, instant financial gain to support their habit.

“A lot of people are losing property.. a lot of stores are losing property. It’s an ongoing issue I think our stores are very active in pursuing.. but we have always had to stay on top of it,” said Amenson.

Amenson also says organized retail theft, groups of people traveling from city to city stealing many items at a time from stores, is also a growing problem on their radar.

“That’s become a lot more prevalent.. even just regional.. they go from Milwaukee to Green Bay.. to Wausau.. to Madison.. and they commit these thefts. We’re a lot more vigilant. We’re a lot better at communicating across law enforcement agencies,” said Amenson.

Big-name retailers and small mom-and-pop business owners are often aware of the growing issue and have different strategies to prevent it. such as 24-hour surveillance, walkie-talkies. and strategic placement of the check-out counter.

Amenson says he encourages business owners to regularly communicate with staff and remain as vigilant as possible.

Nationally, stores lost an estimated $86 billion to retail theft last year and it's predicted that number will jump an additional $14 billion by the end of this