Tulsa Shoplifter Pulls Knife

Friday, November 10th 2006, 6:18 pm
By: News On 6

A shoplifting warning goes out after a suspected thief pulled a knife on a security guard.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says the woman's sticky fingers were caught on tape, and police hope you can identify her.

Shoplifters cost American businesses $25-million a day. Stores can't afford to let the shoplifters go, but, at the same time, chasing them can be a liability nightmare or in some cases, much worse.

This surveillance video comes from the JC Penney’s store at Woodland Hills Mall. Police say the woman was caught red-handed putting bottles of cologne in her purse.

What wasn't caught on tape is what happened when security confronted the woman outside. He says she pulled out a knife and threatened to cut him. She got away, but police hope that's only temporary.

Chasing shoplifters can be dangerous; a KMart security guard was shot in the parking lot earlier this year after confronting suspected thieves. A Target employee was terribly injured after being stabbed by suspected shoplifters. And, five years ago, an Albertson's employee was shot and killed after chasing suspects accused of stealing beer.

There are no easy answers of how to deal with shoplifters. "At Reasors, our policy is we don't want to go out and chase a person down, but we'd rather not have them exit the building, if possible," said loss prevention expert Mike Sharon

Grocery stores and department stores are the most common places for shoplifting. Women under 21 make up most of the shoplifters.

Oklahoma's law change hasn't helped, it now requires stealing $500 worth of merchandise instead of $50, to make it a felony. So, criminally, not much will happen to the person and confronting shoplifters can be a civil liability nightmare for stores. "When you make that decision to walk out the door, it's a million dollar decision, that if it goes bad, it's gonna cost ya," said Sharon.

Tags that beep when you leave or cameras that catch thieves in the act, none of it seems to slow down the crooks. And, it doesn't just cost the stores; theft drives up prices for all of us.

At grocery stores, the most common items stolen are health and beauty products, meat, cigarettes and baby formula.

The weirdest thing Mike has ever seen was a man, who grabbed 78 goldfish, put them in a plastic bag and walked out.

If anyone recognizes the woman accused of pulling the knife, call Crimestoppers at 596-COPS.