Retail theft is becoming a major concern across North Texas.
Lake Worth Police Chief J.T. Manoushagian recently voiced his frustration over the rise in incidents, highlighting the challenges faced by local businesses, according to WFAA.
In a mere span of three weeks, the Walgreens on Lake Worth Boulevard was targeted not once but four times by different groups of thieves. Incidents included an armed robbery during which employees were threatened at gunpoint, a burglary in the parking lot, and the theft of thousands of dollars worth of beauty products by two women.
The latest incident involved two men who emptied shelves of cosmetics into trash bags, as covered by The Dallas Express. Christopher Bivens, 33, and Terrence Parish, 37, were eventually taken into custody after leading Lake Worth police in a dramatic pursuit. There were roughly 250 stolen items worth an estimated $3,284 in the suspects’ vehicle. The duo was also linked to over 30 other retail thefts committed since Halloween.
Such crimes are not one-off incidents but rather reflect a larger trend across the region, according to Manoushagian. The sale of stolen goods through online black markets is also “fund[ing] bigger, larger criminal organizations,” he said, per WFAA.
He recently addressed retail thieves directly on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, writing, “My message to would-be retail thieves: You will be pursued, and you will be caught. The [Lake Worth Police Department] team is unbelievably talented and well-versed in responding to these incidents. Take this garbage elsewhere!”
Statistics from the Council on Criminal Justice show that retail theft is rising across the country, especially in major U.S. cities. Dallas, which has also been dealing with a huge spike in auto thefts, experienced a 73% increase in shoplifting incidents between the first halves of 2022 and 2023. This figure was bested only by Los Angeles, which saw a 109% hike, The Dallas Morning News reported.
As of November 10, a total of 24,141 incidents of theft had been logged in Dallas, according to the City’s crime analytics dashboard.
Dallas is also grappling with a serious officer shortage, with fewer than 3,200 officers currently in the field. A City analysis previously indicated that a city the size of Dallas should have about three officers for every 1,000 residents (roughly 4,000 officers in total) in order to properly maintain public safety.
The officer deficit is most apparent in Downtown Dallas, which routinely outpaces nearby Fort Worth’s downtown area in terms of crime rates. A special police unit and private security guards reportedly help patrol the latter.
In August, Council Member Chad West’s District 1, which is located just southwest of Downtown Dallas, logged a 725% increase in shoplifting, spiking from just four incidents last year to 33, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.