Do Target Stores Tax Our Law Enforcement Resources?

John Farrell left an interesting comment on my post over at MinnPost about Target and shoplifting:

On May 10, 2011, John Farrell says:
Ed,

Target isn’t better at catching shoplifters. The reason they have so many marks on the police report is that Target calls police and prosecutes every single shoplifting incident, at enormous public expense. Furthermore, they have more shoplifters because they are simply the largest retail presence in Longfellow.

You might want to read some of the material from my colleague Stacy Mitchell on the cost of big box retailers. Their use of police for every minor crime serves their bottom line, but often not the community’s best interest.

Interesting perspective. I picked up a copy of Stacy Mitchell’s book, Big-Box Swindle, (on Kindle to my phone via Amazon, which may be a “big server” rather than “big box” situation) and plan to read it on vacation.

To me, it seems likely that Target actually would be better at catching shoplifters than other stores due to their superior technology and economies of scale on security. And, can I blame a store for prosecuting those who shoplift?

More once I’ve read Mitchell’s book.

4 thoughts on “Do Target Stores Tax Our Law Enforcement Resources?”

  1. It might be an interesting book, but stealing is wrong and shoplifters should be prosecuted. Any mother can tell you that.

  2. @Rat, if you had shoplifted something from Target as a kid, would your mom have asked the company to prosecute you to the full extent of the law? Or, would she have talked to the store and hold them that she’d handle this, and that it would never happen again? Wouldn’t the latter often achieve the same or better results at a much lower cost to taxpayers?

  3. Ed,

    Part of the issue is that Target, Walmart, etc. appear to attract more shoplifters. It may be the anonymity of these big faceless chains. It doesn’t feel like you are stealing from someone or that people are paying attention to you like the personalized service you get over at Bob’s Hardware. It’s also the fact that the big boxes have far fewer employees per square foot than independent stores.

    Add to that the fact that the chains have a “prosecute to the fullest extent of the law” policy — rather than just kick the teenagers out and tell their mothers next time you see them. It all adds to significantly higher police costs for every square foot of big box store in your city vs. every square foot of independent business.

    It’s just one of the many hidden costs that we all pay in the Walmart economy.

    Stacy Mitchell

  4. I doubt that a kid getting caught shoplifting for the first time will get prosecuted to the full extent – most likely a slap on the wrist and a good scare. Now, if it’s not their first time, yeah, throw the book at them while they still have a chance to turn it around. My two cents…

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