Shoplifting on the rise

Dec 082003
Authors: Jesse McLain

Harper Ortiz is anticipating a busy holiday season, but not for

typical reasons.

As a loss prevention associate at Sears in Foothills Fashion

Mall, 215 E. Foothills Parkway, her job is to spot and stop


“Our busiest times are around the holidays,” said Ortiz, a CSU

sophomore veterinary medicine open option major. “It’s a big issue.

There are shoplifters coming in and we need to go after them.”

With the holidays coming up, shoplifting and other crimes that

come along with them affect everyone who shops or works in


“On my nights I usually have two or three shoplifters,” Ortiz

said. “They’ve taken anywhere from $50 to $800 or more.”

Not only are outside thieves stealing from stores, but internal

theft is also on the rise.

“We’re actually having more internal than external,” Ortiz said.

“We know that things have been disappearing and employees are the

only ones with access to it.”

For Nathan Burkey, a lawn and garden associate at Sears,

shoplifting is a personal insult.

“They’re stealing from me, not just from Sears,” Burkey said.

“They’re taking merchandise that I should be making commission


Depending upon a store’s individual profit margin, compensating

for merchandise taken by shoplifters can take much more in sales.

If a store has a profit margin of 1 percent and $7 worth of

merchandise is shoplifted from the store, it must sell $700 worth

of merchandise to make up its loses, according to


Foothills Mall is taking extra precautions to protect against

shoplifters in each of its stores by increasing mall security and

incorporating Fort Collins Police Services officers to its security

staff on the weekends.

“Whenever we have more customers we have greater amounts of

shoplifting,” said Cynthia Eichler, general manager of Foothills

Mall. “One thing that we always do is up the number of


Eichler can think of a few explanations why shoplifting numbers

are particularly high this year.

“There’s pressure to keep the holidays the same as they’ve

always been and times are tough,” Eichler said. “People are being

put in positions that we haven’t seen in Fort Collins for a


However for some, shoplifting during the holidays is no

different than any other time of year.

“You have to remember that some people actually do this for a

living,” Eichler said.

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