With cooperation from several local businesses, more than 20 people were arrested and charged last week with shoplifting in an Elizabethtown enforcement blitz.
The Elizabethtown Police Department unveiled details of the numerous arrests during a Monday morning news conference. It involved the work of 10 EPD officers, two patrol sergeants and 12 local businesses.
EPD Public Affairs Officer John Thomas said as Elizabethtown has grown to become Kentucky’s 10th largest city, property and drug-related crimes also have increased. Thomas said the publicized arrests will send a message to would-be thieves.
“We are not sitting idly by,” he said. “We are taking this type of crime very seriously. This is just the beginning. We are not going to tolerate this type of crime in our town.”
The total amount of items reportedly stolen was $1,967.83. The items included beer, meat, clothes and baby formula, officials said.
Terry Young, organized retail crime manager for the Kroger Louisville division, said in one instance a mother brought her young children with her during the alleged shoplifting.
“We tend to see that every time we have one of these operations, but it’s the truth,” he said. “It happens.”
In addition to the 22 people who were arrested, six were given citations, two committed trespassing offenses and there is one with a pending warrant. Some also were cited for other offenses, included one alcohol-related offense and two for drug-related offenses. About 80 to 90 percent of retail thefts EPD investigates have a connection to drugs, either a drug user who is supporting a habit or someone involved in some organized crime that is connected to the crime.
Three people cited were juveniles.
“We’re hoping that we stage an early intervention for these three and prevent potential habits and a lifestyle that could follow them into adulthood,” Thomas said.
Officials say communication between police and the businesses was conducted through WhatsApp, a messaging application, allowing EPD’s dispatch system to focus on other calls.
The businesses involved included Lowe’s, Walmart, Academy Sports, Target, Belk, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Old Navy, T.J. Maxx, Shoe Carnival, Newcomb Oil and Kroger. Officials said arrests will continue, especially as the holiday season begins.
“You’re going to see more of these coming,” Young said.