LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – FOX5 was on the road exclusively with Henderson Police as they conducted a one-day retail theft blitz operation, targeting four stores.

“Today we’re looking at Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart and TJ Maxx,” said Henderson Police Det. James McGeahy. “We have loss prevention inside, as well as a detective, so there’s one of two detectives assigned to each store, so they’re in the back with loss prevention monitoring the cameras.”

Within two hours, we’d already seen four arrests.

“So, they do have somebody in custody at Home Depot,” said Det. McGeahy during the blitz.

The main focus of the blitz was on organized retail theft, where the thieves steal property, and then give it to another person called a “fence” who sells it.

“They give them lists and whatnot, and they send them to different retailers, and they steal large amounts of products,” said Det. McGeahy. “Tools, electronics, clothing is huge.”

Det. McGeahy says a few years ago, an organized group was stealing from targets throughout Nevada and California and selling those items from a home in the Las Vegas Valley.

“We did a search warrant, and we recovered, I believe it was over $200,000 worth of property. It was two semi-truck loads full of property that we took from these houses,” said Det. McGeahy.

During our ride-along, FOX5 saw three calls from the same Home Depot in just two hours.

“Our officers were out here arresting a guy, and somebody walked into the store and is stealing right now,” said Det. McGeahy during the blitz.

Police say hardware stores with name-brand tools are especially at risk for thefts, and those thefts can be pricey.

“The people who are stealing them are usually getting about 30 to 50% of the value when they sell them to these fences,” said Det. McGeahy. “So it’s a big money maker for them as well as the fence who’s selling them usually about 20% below the cost of what they’re selling in the store.”

Police say stores each have their own policy for how loss prevention staff should respond to thefts. Some will wait for police.

“We can’t say they’re even creating a crime until they pass all points of sale, so a theft actually doesn’t even occur until they walk out of a store,” said Det. McGeahy.

Although Det. McGeahy says most suspects will give up once police make contact, sometimes, these interactions can get violent.

“We’ve had some in the past, they’ve had guns, they’ve had pepper spray, we actually had a group that was using tasers,” said Det. McGeahy.

Depending on the situation, the value of the stolen items, and criminal history, police say the suspect will be arrested and either cited or charged. Det. McGeahy says those misdemeanor offenses can add up, quickly becoming a felony.

“We can total all of those amounts, so say if they do, like, five thefts at $500 a piece, then we have a grand larceny of $2,500 as well as five burglaries.”

The one-day blitz resulted in 17 arrests, including teens and people with active arrest warrants, as well as more than $2,100 in stolen property recovered.

And Henderson Police already have another retail theft blitz in the works.


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