Shutting Down Shoplifting in Fruitland - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Shutting Down Shoplifting in Fruitland

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FRUITLAND, Md. - With the number of retails thefts quickly rising in the city of Fruitland, the police department is taking steps to curb the growing crime trend.

It is at the big retails stores in town where the Fruitland Police Department consistently gets calls for theft.

"The Walmart complex in town. We also have the retails businesses in the Food Lion shopping center and the Apple Drug/Big Lots area of Fruitland," said Police Chief, Mike Phillips.

The Chief told WBOC the economic times play a big role in the increased theft numbers, but so does increase of heroin use in the local community.

"The heroin addicts in our community are often unemployed and don't have a consistent source of income to purchase their drugs. A lot of them turn to the retail thefts and shoplifting due to the larger items, more valued items, they can get from it and be a little bit more efficient in their stealing," said Chief Phillips.

At this point in 2013, Fruitland has 40 part one offenses or crimes.  44% of those part one crimes stemmed from retail thefts.  So far in 2014, the city is up to 96 part ones.  66% of that is theft.  Police are aware of the problem, aware of where it's taking place and why some people are committing the crimes.  Now comes the matter of stopping the crimes.  The police department has started sending out a weekly press release publicizing the names of those arrested for theft in Fruitland.  Officers, both uniformed and plain clothed, can be seen more frequently around the big retail stores.  Keeping an eye on customers and making sure items are purchased and not pocketed. 

Chief Phillips said his department is working closely with other law enforcement agencies in the area as well as the area colleges, both UMES and Salisbury University.  Phillips said Fruitland PD see a steady flow of college students arrested for shoplifting in the city.

Chief Phillips said the ultimate goal, like in any city in America, is no crime at all.  But realistically, he would like to see the theft numbers reduced to a level they were at a few years ago which was a much more manageable number for the Fruitland Police Department.

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