Violence associated with organized retail theft a concern

Dec 13, 2023, 8:00 AM

Retail thefts by organized gangs are decreasing in the United States as compared to 2022, but retai...

Retail thefts by organized gangs are decreasing in the United States as compared to 2022, but retail stores are still braced for the violence associated with these crimes. (Canva)


SALT LAKE CITY —  Two fatal stabbings associated with retail theft in the U.S. have retailers reviewing their safety options. 

In Philadelphia, one person was killed after a shopper stabbed two security guards. A similar fatal stabbing was reported in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

Last year at about this time a group of people robbed an Apple store in Farmington, Utah.

Retailers have a few ways to fight this type of crime. Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said there are enhanced penalties for a crime where more than three people are involved.

“Prosecutors can go after those if there are weapons displayed,” he said. “Everything from aggravated assault, robbery, burglary.  These are all felony level statutes in addition to the retail theft.”

If the suspects are involved with an organized group of criminals, the group can also face enhanced penalties.

However, fighting back isn’t suggested. If store owners choose that route, Rawlings urges caution.

“You can’t up the ante with the level of force. You can’t use more force than they are using, but you can match that level of force if it’s reasonable under the situation to detain them for a reasonable amount of time.”

Rawlings said merchants have the right to detain people who are stealing.. but usually it is by locking the doors until police can arrive.

In Utah, merchants can block people from exiting. Or they can lock the doors until police arrive and start investigating.

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Violence associated with organized retail theft a concern