22 charged in retail crime blitz

Updated: Oct. 28, 2019 at 10:53 AM EDT
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ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WAVE) – Twenty-two people were taken into custody following a retail crime blitz in Elizabethtown.

Elizabethtown Police Department spokesman Officer John Thomas said 22 people were arrested and six people were cited during the blitz that took place from noon to 8 p.m. on Oct. 23 and Oct. 24.

“I believe these numbers alone speak to the scope of the retail theft problem in Elizabethtown,” Thomas said.

The blitz was a partnership with the Kentucky Organized Retail Crime Association. Kroger, Kohl’s, Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, TJ Maxx, J.C. Penney, Academy Sports, Old Navy, Shoe Carnival, Newcomb Oil and Belk participated.

“We want prospective thieves who are targeting our area for retail theft to understand we are not sitting idly by, we are taking this kind of theft very seriously and this is just the beginning,” Thomas said.

Shoppers during that time also had a reaction to the crime blitz.

“I’m very glad,” shopper Greg Shipp said. “People don’t need to be stealing.”

Shopper Shelia Wells added that the thefts that cost stores so much also hit everyone else’s wallets.

“People that work hard for their money," Wells said. "They don’t want it to be taken away from them like that.”

Elizabethtown Public Information Officer John Thomas said the motive behind many of the thefts are drugs.

“E-town has grown, [and] we’ve seen an increase in our local drug problem,” Thomas said.

The police detail runs through WhatsApp. Much like those seen in Jefferson County, store loss prevention employees inside watch thieves and talk through the app to police waiting outside.

Kroger Organized Retail Crime Manager Terry Young said one of the accused thieves was a mom stealing with her kids in tow.

“You hate to see that," Young said. "Children involved in being used as a pawn or a ploy to commit your crime and we tend to see that every time we have one of these operations.”

“It affects a lot of families and of course children too," Hardin County shopper Jordan Nunn said. "It’s really hurting them.”

Terry Young works with Kroger and the Kentucky Organized Retail Crime Association, and said the items stolen ranged from beer, to meat to baby formula and clothes.

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