PEABODY (CBS) – Your local mall at Christmastime. There are the decorations, Santa Claus, holiday music, and then a not so pleasant side, according to Saugus Police Officer Thomas Jones. “Every Christmas season, along with everybody going out to buy presents, we see the Christmas shoplifting, I call it,” he says.
Officer Jones works at the Square One Mall Police Substation, which is a partnership between Saugus Police, Simon Malls and Allied Barton Security. “The biggest problem is shoplifting and whether it’s one person walking into a store and seeing something and realizing they don’t want to pay for it so they steal it, or whether it’s organized retail crime, nationwide, it’s a big problem,” says Officer Jones.
It turns out a relatively small group of professionals is to blame. Ryan Kearney is General Counsel for the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. He says Organized Retail Crime, ORC, accounts for just three percent of all shoplifting but is responsible for 30 billion dollars out of the 38 billion dollars in annual shrinkage.
Peabody Police Detective Ralph Scopa works at the North Shore Mall in Peabody, which has had a Community Outreach Center at the Mall since 1996. He says these rings are quite sophisticated. “You’ll have one in a car on the phone. You’ll have one outside the store on the phone. You’ll have three go in. One will fill it, hand it off and do the running. When they do get caught, for whatever reason, and they are brought down to the station and there is a high bail on them, you know who the hierarchy is by who they bail out. They would come in any time day or night with a brown paper bag, 20 grand cash, here you go,” explains Scopa.