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Thiefs stealing from stores as people watch

By Ashley RK Smith, Patricia Del Rio

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    SOUTHINGTON, Connecticut (WFSB) — Brazen shoplifting incidents where people just walk out of stores with hundreds of dollars of items as others look on.

The most recent incident happened in Southington last night.

Three people loaded a cart and headed for the doors.

They knocked the manager to the ground when the manager tried to stop them.

The manager was injured.

We are learning that these types of brazen grab and go incidents are unfortunately becoming increasingly more common.

Especially now during the pandemic, people are wearing masks and that makes them even harder to identify.

The video that has gone viral.

It’s from an Oxford grocery store earlier this week where people are seen loading grocery carts full of items into likely stollen cars and getting away with it as people videotaped it.

Now police in Southington say there have been similar incidents at the BJ’s, a Stop and Shop and a ShopRite in town.

They say a woman on Sunday stole more than $700 work of merchandise at the ShopRite on Queen Street.

When an employee tried to stop her, she pulled out a hypodermic needle and threatened to stab the employee.

These stealing spree incidents are becoming more and more common. Even viral.

This is video from a Walgreens in San Francisco over the summer.

People grabbing and going, as others, even security guards, watch.

We asked law enforcement expert Lisa Dadio why this is happening.

“We started seeing this type of brazen theft really when the pandemic kicked into full gear,” said Dadio.

Dadio says the viral videos have inspired others to do the same thing, “then you are going to get all this copycat stuff happening throughout the country which is what’s happening.”

She says another contributing factor to the rise of these attacks, is that they often get away with it. “They are very well aware of the penalties for stealing under a certain dollar value from a store. That it’s a misdemeanor and the courts have come out publicly throughout the country to say that they are not incarcerating people for minor offenses.”

Dadio says in many cases they are organized rings who know the exact items they are looking for to resell. “They are making a profit usually selling all that stuff in some type of format kind of like on the black market, or on the internet on eBay and other sites to generate revenue.”

The final point she makes is that they also know store employees can often do little to stop them. “They [employees] are not allowed to put their hands on somebody. And that’s a store policy. And the reason is because of civil liability.”

It seems a little ludicrous that you can sue because you were stealing, but yet you can sue the person who stopped you for any type of injury that they may have sustained.

Back here at the ShopRite, word of the incident has spread among shoppers, who admit, they would be fearful to get involved.

Bystanders often fear getting hurt or even killed and the criminals know that. Meantime police are trying to figure out if any of these incidents in Southington and Oxford are connected.

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