Some stores offering shoplifters fine, online course instead of calling the cops

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Some stores are offering shoplifters another option besides calling the cops. They can pay $320 to take an online course in hopes they’ll change their ways.

Corrective Education Company is the one offering this service to larger stores like Designer Shoe Warehouse, Burlington Coat Factory, and Bloomingdale’s. According to the company website:

CEC is leading the change within Loss Prevention. With CEC’s mobile-based platform you are able to identify, qualify and divert your low risk offenders from the traditional legal process by enrolling them in CEC’s accredited educational program all within minutes. “

Shoplifting is a big problem across the nation.  In fact, retailers reported a six percent increase last year.

“It’s as big of an issue as it was several years ago. Actually, it appears to be growing in some areas,” Kroger Loss Prevention Coordinator Ron Seay said.

Ron Seay runs loss prevention teams at Kroger stores. Two hot spot areas they’re always watching are the meat and alcohol departments.

“We concentrate on those areas either with undercover security and with our camera system.”

It’s so sophisticated, Seay says they can zoom in on a product and clearly see the label. Based on his years of experience, he says most shoplifters aren’t lifelong criminals.

“I could see us utilizing a different system and technique so that we make sure we don’t clog our judicial systems and court systems with theft or petty theft.”

As far as mandating retailers to use the program, Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards says she’s not interested in that.

“We actually have our own program that does something very similar,” Allen County Prosecutor (R) Karen Richards said.

After a shoplifter is arrested, they’re hauled to jail, and don’t have to post bail to get out. They have the option to go through a local program to dismiss the charges.

“There’s an educational piece through CAP which is a local counseling agency. If they do what they need to do, make restitution, finish the program, their charges are dismissed.”

If they don’t complete it, they go through the court system.

The Indiana Retail Organized Crime Coalition has praised Allen County for the most successful prosecutions of shoplifters.

Plus, Richards says generally a ride to jail is enough to change a shoplifter’s behavior.

“If it’s not, there is something wrong with you.”

It’s still up to retailers if they want to participate.

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