Sheriff’s Office works with merchants to battle shoplifters |

Sheriff’s Office works with merchants to battle shoplifters

Douglas County Sheriff's Captain John Milby talks about the new shoplifting program in 2013.
Shannon Litz file photo |

A little more than a week ago, a man and a pregnant woman wheeled two televisions out of one of Douglas County’s big box stores, loaded the televisions in their car and took off without paying. It is not an unusual week when three or four people are taken into custody for shoplifting around the county.

The growth of retail outlets in Douglas County has been accompanied by an increase in the number of property crimes targeting those outlets, according to sheriff’s Capt. John Milby.

He said that at one outlet, employees sweep up the cut-off tags at night, and write off the thefts. Others, like the Topsy Walmart, have aggressive loss prevention programs which help protect the store from shoplifters.

In an effort to give retailers the ability to spot serial shoplifters, Douglas County formed an Area Law Enforcement & Retail Team, where investigators and retailers come together to share information.

“The program has been going on for about a year now,” Milby said. “It’s basically information sharing. We’re on a first-name basis with the local retailers. When they provide us with information about thefts, we put those in e-mails communicating what we learn.”

Milby said there are shoplifters who travel around the region, making a living by raiding area retailers.

“Part of it is the economy,” he said. “It’s a crime of opportunity, and there’s lots of thefts going on that have not been reported.”

The group meets quarterly to talk about what’s happened in their stores and to learn ways to battle thefts.

On June 13, they’ll gather to hear a Secret Service agent talk about identifying counterfeit bills.

But retailers don’t have to wait three months to share information. Milby said he sends out a regular e-mail with the information he’s received from the stores and other sources.

“The more retailers we have in the database, the more people we can catch,” he said.

“It has been a good deal, and it would be great to get more retailers involved.”

Milby said any retailer is welcome to join. The sheriff’s office’s new software can also show which stores are being targeted.

Any retailer interested in participating may contact Milby at or call 782-9906.