Police in Lee’s Summit said between Black Friday and Christmas last year, more than $11,000 worth of items was stolen from retails stores.
Lee’s Summit Police Officer Beth Glover said shoplifting is on the rise in the area, but a new task force is making a big difference.
The task force assigned several undercover officers to shopping centers over the holiday season which resulted in 27 arrests.
The undercover officers often patrol near stores and look for signs of shoplifting.
“They will be on the lookout for people running,” explained Officer Glover. “They will also look for people that back in to parking spaces. That's a clue they could be a shoplifter.”
A “grab-and-go” trend is happening more often in the crimes.
“They are not even trying to conceal it,” Officer Glover said. “They are just grabbing handfuls of merchandise located towards the front of the store and turning around to get out the door."
Officer Glover said in cases where the shoplifting suspect got away from police, some of the stolen items were later posted for sale on Facebook and Craigslist.
Many of the shoplifting cases during the holiday season happened at nationally owned stores in the area’s shopping centers.
Downtown shop owner Mallory Kammeyer, who runs @Jolly’s, said the thieves likely stay away from downtown due to a lack of parking for a quick getaway.
She also said the relationships between shop owners also help keep things safe.
“I think we all look out for each other,” she explained. “Everybody kind of watches out to make sure everything is okay."
However, the sophistication of some of the plans has Kammeyer somewhat concerned.
“It’s people actually sitting around and planning out their attack on certain locations,” she said. “That is what's intelligent and terrifying about it."
Lee’s Summit police said a first-time misdemeanor shoplifting charge could result in a fine up to $1,000 and one year in jail.