Police in Mason City are noticing an up-tick in shoplifting incidents, and the bold way thieves are getting away with merchandise may surprise you.
We’re looking into this alarming trend, and what local businesses are doing to try to curb it.
In the past week alone there have been at least three known retail theft cases at the Mason City Walmart Superstore.
Police are looking for one man, described as a younger white male with facial hair, who they believe is involved in at least two recent theft cases.
“The photos are so clear, if we got a name we can pretty much tell if that’s the right person or not,” explains Captain Mike McKelvey with MCPD.
This is just one of a few thefts that have happened at the Walmart Superstore in the past week. On Wednesday, two people were arrested after Walmart employees spotted walking out of the store with a cart full of unpaid for merchandise, something those in the retail industry call “cart-pushing”.
Walmart store manager Stewart Anderson says it’s a bold move, but it something that has become more common.
“We haven’t seen a lot of that in the past but it seems to be happening a lot more recently,” Anderson explains.
Shoplifters simply put items into their cart, wait around for the coast to be clear, and walk out the door.
“I think the people that are doing it, don’t start out with a “cart push”, they worked up to this. They’ve gotten away with it in the past maybe and think they can do it,” says Anderson.
Wednesday, Joleen Billick and Josh Schaer were arrested and charged after the two came back to attempt another “cart push” less than an hour later. The Mason City Police were then able to track down the vehicle they were in; after Walmart employees got the plate number of the truck Billick and Schaer were in.
“The nice thing, just like the first incident, even if they get away, the video surveillance has gotten so much better at the retail stores, even the convenience stores. The clarity, the digital enhancements are so much better than what they used to be,” adds McKelvey.
Walmart wants you to know, they are working to prevent more thefts, and Anderson says sometimes the key is good customer service.
“Our greeters who do a great job not only assisting customers but watching for that type of behavior. Providing that customer service helps cut it down, when they get noticed, they don’t do it,” says Anderson. He also says they encourage their customers to report any suspicious behavior they might see while shopping. Anderson says cutting down on retail thefts will help keep costs low for everyone.
Captain McKelvey says the suspect they are looking for may have gotten away with nearly $1,000 worth of items from Walmart. If you recognize this person in the photo, you’re asked to contact the Mason City Police.