Shop­lifting growing problem over holiday season

9 in 10 retailers report being victim of theft

SAN ANTONIO - Americans are expected to spend billions of dollars over the holiday season, as shoppers hit the stores in masses in search of that perfect gift. 

Along with the surge in seasonal business, retailers are also on high alert for shoplifters, who are also out in larger quantities over the holiday season.

According to the National Retail Federation, nine in 10 retailers report being a victim of organized retail crime, with the most commonly stolen items being cigarettes, energy drinks, high-end liquor, denim jeans and handbags, just to name a few.

"It is a problem in San Antonio. We do follow the would-be thieves throughout the city who commit this crime quite frequently," said Lt. Frank Martinez, with the San Antonio Police Department. 

Martinez said he specializes in the department's repeat offenders program, and sees a wide variety of items taken from local stores.            

"You can have the would-be thieves that take makeup because it's easily concealed. You also have people who go into the grocery stores and steal steaks and meat from the meat market, and then you have people who commit the grab-and-runs, like ladies purses, the high-dollar Louis Vuittons," Martinez said.

Martinez said with a higher volume of people shopping at stores the next few weeks, it's more important than ever to remain vigilant.

"It happens right in front of you sometimes (and) you're not even aware. They're just very smooth at it," Martinez said. "Be cognizant of the fact that there may be people who may want to take advantage of you. If they were to see some suspicious behavior in the store, contact a manager or store employee, so that action can be taken."

The punishment for shoplifting ranges from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the value of what was stolen.

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