The D’Iberville Police Department has established a new unit to fight crimes against retail merchants.
Police Chief Wayne Payne announced the formation of the Retail Crimes Unit in a press release Friday. The unit includes two police officers solely dedicated to retail crimes. A detective also will be assigned to the unit to work felony cases generated by the retail crimes officers.
“Its sole focus is to combat those who wish to defraud our merchants,” Payne said in the press release.
The new unit was made possible by a U.S. Department of Justice grant program. The state Department of Public Safety helped the D’Iberville Police Department secure the $175,191 grant, which fully funds the two officers, their vehicles and overtime pay.
The unit will fall under the command of the Criminal Investigations Division headed by Capt. Marty Griffin.
“Since the development of the Promenade (shopping complex) in October of 2009, the city has experienced massive growth in retailers from thirty four stores to sixty and still growing in 2017,” Payne said in the press release. “With that growth comes retail crimes. The D’Iberville Police Department saw the need to address this issue and worked to combat it.”
Organized retail crime, which is described as professional shoplifting or cargo theft conducted by more than one person, costs the retail industry about $30 billion each year, according to the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association.
A National Retail Federation survey of 59 senior loss-prevention executives found 100 percent said their companies had experienced organized retail crime in the past year, up from 97 percent in 2015 and marking the first time in the survey’s history all responding companies reported being a victim.
The average loss was $700,259 per $1 billion in sales, an increase from $453,940 last year, according to the survey.
The Police Department invites the public to attend the unveiling of the Retail Crimes Unit, meet its officers and see the tools they will use to combat retail crime. The unveiling will be at 4 p.m. Monday at D’Iberville City Hall.