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Is it working? Auburn PD's zero-tolerance shoplifting policy

When the number of shoplifting cases surged in the city of Auburn earlier this year, the police department instituted a new, no-nonsense policy.

((NEWSCENTER Maine)) When the number of shoplifting cases surged in the city of Auburn, earlier this year, the police department instituted a new, no nonsense policy.

Police started arresting and charging people and posting their mugshots on Facebook.

According to police the idea is not to shame people--- but create a deterrent.

"For the months of February and March there was a 178% above last year when it came to shoplifting incidents." Chief Moen says.

Chief Moen says the department decided to get proactive and institute a zero tolerance shoplifting policy. If you're caught you'll be arrested and brought to jail. And your mug shot will be posted on the police departments Facebook page--- which reaches up to 15 thousand people. "If they know they're going to end up on Facebook with the arrest info. hopefully that will deter them from doing that."

It's been a little over 6 months and the new policy is starting to work. Chief Moen says "we're seeing a 25% decrease in our monthly average."

Fewer shoplifting cases is good news for Auburn's overall crime rate and a big benefit for local businesses.

Quentin Chapman is a loss prevention specialist at Roopers Redemption. "After he put that policy together we saw our theft decrease exponentially. It was impressive."

Chapman says he appreciates Auburn PD's policy because it sends more than just a message. "If you do something you need to own it and be held accountable and what they're doing is holding them accountable."

Chapman says "theft is theft, it's not a victimless crime. If I lose a $60 bottle, at 15% i'm selling 6 or 7 before I make a profit again. So it costs somebody somewhere."

Chief Moen says no matter what a persons motivation is to steal, turning to crime is not the answer. "There are resources out there that you need to use and committing a crime is not one of those resources."

Police say the spike in shoplifting, is in part, fueled by drug use.

Another growing method of shoplifting is "skip scanning". When shoppers go to a self-checkout and don't scan or pay for all of their items.

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