EDINBURGH, Ind. — As the holiday season approaches, police departments across the state are busting a number of organized thefts at Indiana retailers.
In a span of 60 days, police in Edinburgh have recovered more than $8,000 worth of stolen clothing from multiple thefts.
“We got some good information from some observant employees,” described Edinburgh Police Chief Doyne Little Jr. “We’re able to do traffic stops where we’ve recovered a large amount of stolen property.”
Little said an ocean of stolen clothing comes from just four separate cases. Five people have been arrested and Little said five others fled the state. Police said some of those involved include a group from Nashville, Tennessee.
“Being a retail organized group, that’s what they do,” Little said. “They hit malls along a major interstate, make as much of that they can, then take it back to their home state and sell it.”
In Carmel, police say a group of people came from New Jersey to Indiana with plans to walk away with a little bit of extra cash from a Home Depot. According to court documents, five people were arrested and now face several charges in Hamilton County, including organized retail theft.
Investigators say the group purchased items from Home Depot with counterfeit cash and then returned those items in exchange for real U.S. currency. According to court documents, a search warrant was done on the group’s vehicle and police found more than $5,000 worth of merchandise and over $41,000 in fraudulent cash.
Retail experts say thefts not only lead to products getting locked up behind glass, but they can also cause potential price hikes.
“I think in this sort of environment, there is the potential for companies to try to pass along some of those losses to the consumer,” said John Talbott, director of the Center on Education and Research in Retail at the IU Kelley School of Business.
As holiday shopping picks up, police say these types of crimes will also ramp up. Chief Little warns retailers that safety should always come first.
“We are also recovering a tremendous amount of guns that are with these people,” he said.
“[The guns are] not being displayed or anything of that sort, but they are armed. They do have weapons in the vehicle. So be a good observer, but at the end of the day, it’s a piece of property so it can be replaced and you can’t.”
Police say if you see something, say something, and report it immediately so they can start tracking down any crooks. Police also remind holiday shoppers to keep purchased items hidden and locked in their cars.