Georgetown Police: Shoplifting a Major Problem - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Georgetown Police: Shoplifting a Major Problem

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

GEORGETOWN, Del. Quick hands and sneaky intentions. That's the challenge facing the Georgetown Police Department, as it combats the growing problem of shoplifting. Chief R.L. Hughes said that the problem is primarily caused by the growing drug addiction problem in the area.  

"Why do people do shoplifting?" he asked. "I'm sure there's a number of reasons. But the reason you'll hear from our police officers talking - and talking to the people who are arrested - often times it's about addiction." 

Hughes said there have been 136 incidents of shoplifting so far in 2015. According to the chief, this number puts Georgetown on track to surpass the 219 from 2014. 

"Heroin is a driver when it comes to our shoplifting in Georgetown," he said. 

In the long-term, Hughes said that there should be more focus on drug prevention and treatment. In the short-term, however, he said he was hopeful that increasing police presence would help deter people from shoplifting. 

"We need to be there so the folks can see us there," he said. "So it doesn't become an easy opportunity." 

The great majority of the shoplifting is occurring on the Route 113 corridor where Wal-Mart and Royal Farms are located. Hughes said those two stores are two of the biggest victims of shoplifting. 

Smaller businesses have been hit as well, including the Georgetown Antique Market.

"We see just a lot of little things taken, pieces of jewelry, pocketbooks,"said Colleen Briggs, of Georgetown Antique Market.

Briggs said that many of those caught stealing, appear to be in desperate need, but still she said it was frustrating to be stolen from.

"We're the ones that are putting out our money to buy this merchandise," she said. "And if it's stolen, then that's out of our pocket. And we don't make any money when things are stolen."

Georgetown police said there have been 38 drug-related incidents so far in 2015. In all of 2014, that number was 30. 

Georgetown is not the only Sussex County city battling the problem of shoplifting. The city of Seaford, located approximately 14 miles west of Georgetown, is also dealing with the issue. As of Sept. 17, the Seaford Police Department said that there have been 161 incidents of shoplifting, and 239 thefts.

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