Liquor store owner, market official say store layouts help discourage theft
(Update: Adding video, comments from liquor sellers)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Along with the theft of mail packages, vehicles and more, there’s also another product being stolen these days on the High Desert: alcohol.
"We usually catch, probably about two people every month. So if you think of it that way, that's 24 people in a year. But, what we don't catch is the problem," Wagner Mall Liquor Beer & Wine owner Christine Milstid said Tuesday.
She said they're likely stolen from two to three more times a week than they know.
The chief operating officer of Newport Avenue Market in Bend, Joe Anzaldo, said they keep a sharp lookout for thieves.
“So there’s literally millions of dollars that are lost nationally to theft, be it alcohol, or otherwise and it’s a big concern," Anzaldo said.
Although theft does happen in their store, Anzaldo said they haven't noticed a significant increase, since they work efficiently to prevent it.
"We do several things -- one, having the alcohol towards the back of the store. Hard alcohol, is actually with the wine and beer in the back. So there’s plenty of employees between the alcohol and the front door, to actually get out of here," Anzaldo said.
The market has 120 employees, and Anzaldo said if they notice suspicious behavior, they don’t engage aggressively.
In fact, they do quite the opposite. Their proven tactic is to kill people with kindness.
"I think it’s just that engagement, just get in front of their face and say, 'How can I help you? What are you looking for? Do you have I.D. for that'" Anzaldo said.
Milstid said there was a lot of theft before the store was remodeled.
"Throughout the last year, we've redone the entire store, and so luckily enough, we do have areas that are covered by our surveillance cameras, which is new," she said. "We've updated that, and just the layout of the store. You cannot hide in places and steal things as easily."
She also noted that there's definitely an uptick of alcohol theft during the holidays and the winter season.
With the number of people who are no longer working, due to COVID-19 and experiencing hardships, addiction habits and depression that rise during the holidays, she said that combination of realities increases liquor theft.
"They come in the store, they're wearing large jackets -- it's easier to steal that way," Milstid added.
Anzaldo said it's expected in the holiday season, especially with kids being on vacation.
"Often times, the kids are out of school, so if we’re talking kids, meaning not 21-year-olds, that’s where a lot of the theft does come from," Anzaldo said.