Tulsa Police are trying to put a stop to a more creative way criminals are making a quick buck, as they prepare for store thefts to go up as usual during the holiday season.
Officers said it's becoming more and more common for people to walk into a store empty-handed, grab expensive items on the shelves, and then return them without a receipt in exchange for a gift card and store credit. Police are currently looking for a man (pictured in the video above) they said carried out that exact plan at the downtown Home Depot earlier this month.
Lieutenant Shane Tuell said these people either take those gift cards and sell them for cash, or use the gift card to buy another expensive item, and return later with a legitimate receipt.
"Just to the bad guys that are out there trying this, we're onto you," Tuell said.
Tuell said it's gotten bad enough in the Tulsa area that hardware stores are hiring off-duty police officers to patrol their stores. He said those off-duty officers catch someone attempting the same trick every single day.
"They're not selecting light bulbs or fuse boxes," Tuell said.
"They're selecting the high dollar items and hoping to get out with them," he continued.
Tuell said hardware stores know this is a growing problem, which is why they've planted security cameras all around the store.
"The thing is that they don't anticipate, is that they're being watched," Tuell said. "Their every move is being watched."
Tuell said these criminals think they're sticking it to the man, but companies make up for their loss by raising purchase prices, which means thieves are actually sticking it to consumers.
"Every time you see someone stealing from a store, they just stole from you," he said.
If you recognize the man in the video above, call Crime Stoppers at 918-596-COPS.
Editor's Note: We wish to clarify that the Home Depot customers appearing in the video portion of our original broadcast of this story, customers who were transporting and off-loading goods purchased from Home Depot, were not involved in any unlawful or improper behavior. We regret any confusion the story may have caused in this regard.