Over the summer, store managers at American Apparel and Urban Outfitters finally had to worry a bit less about shoplifters.
The Division of Public Safety established a retail theft task force to combat the typically high level of retail theft during summer months. There were five retails thefts at the top five retail theft locations this past summer, as opposed to 20 in 2013 and 13 in 2012, according to statistics from DPS.
For the past few years, DPS had taken measures to fight against theft during the summer, but it devoted more resources to the effort this year.
The retail theft task force was mainly made up of AlliedBarton guards standing in front of retail stores and Penn Police officers on patrol around the blocks near those stores.
“Our world is about crime analysis every day,” Vice President of Public Safety Maureen Rush said. DPS conducted analysis on retail thefts in the past and chose five store locations to deploy guards: Blue Mercury and American Apparel, both near 36th and Walnut streets, Urban Outfitters on 36th and Sansom streets, and the two CVS stores, on 39th and Walnut and 34th and Walnut streets.
The guards stood visibly at those locations from open to close, and they were required to sign in on a police patrol log kept by the store owner every day. Penn police officers on patrol also walked into the stores and signed the patrol log unannounced. Guards and police officers communicated with store owners on a daily basis.
Jackie Nevin, the store manager at American Apparel, recognized the effectiveness of the task force. She mentioned that the expected goal for “shrink of sales” due to thefts from June to August for the store was about $2,900. The actual number ended up being about $900. Henry Wong, owner of the Furniture Campus Home Store next to Urban Outfitters, also appreciated the presence of the task force. He said that the number of thefts in his store per month dropped down from four to one because of the task force.
The task force’s summer operations lasted from June 11 to Sept. 7. As the fall semester starts, DPS will continue normal police patrol around those retail areas.
“We slightly scaled back the patrol hours dedicated to these stores, but we are still maintaining a high level of police patrol around the area,” Rush said.
Correction: A previous version of this article indicated that there were five retail thefts in the Penn Patrol Zone this summer. There were five retail thefts at the top five retail theft locations in the Penn Patrol Zone.
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