California sheriff rips Target for interfering with shoplifting crackdown

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By Dan Sears

A California sheriff launched a scathing tirade against Target, accusing the retailer of preventing cops from cracking down on shoplifting — even as the chain asks authorities for help.

Sheriff Jim Cooper of California’s Sacramento County said he was outraged when the Minneapolis-based discount chain told property crimes detectives that they “could not contact suspects inside the store.”

“We could not handcuff suspects in the store; and if we arrested someone, they wanted us to process them outside… behind the store… in the rain,” an exasperated Cooper fumed in a lengthy X post

“We were told they didn’t want to create a scene inside the store and have people film it and put it on social media,” Cooper added. “They didn’t want negative press. Unbelievable.”

Cooper detailed one incident at Target where “deputies watched a lady on camera bring in her own shopping bags, go down the body wash isle and grab a bunch of Native body washes. Then she went to customer service and return them!”

Sheriff Jim Cooper shared a lengthy post on X where he bashed Target for preventing cops from thwarting retail theft.
@SheriffJCooper / X

“Target chose to do nothing and simply let it happen,” Cooper wrote. “Yet somehow, locking up deodorant and raising prices on everyday items we need to survive is their best answer.”

“We don’t tell big retail how to do their jobs, they shouldn’t tell us how to do ours.”

The Post has sought comment from Target and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office.

Cooper seemed shocked that Target asked for help to combat theft and then requested that authorities “not handcuff suspects in the store.” “I can’t make this stuff up,” he wrote.
Sheriff Jim Cooper / Facebook

Hamstrung by policies that prevent employees from engaging with shoplifters, other big chains including CVS and Walgreens have resorted to locking up everyday items in an attempt to combat rampant shoplifting.

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The trend has some shoppers fuming that the days of quick trips to the store are over.

Dr. Emily Long, a plastic surgeon based in Boston, took to social media recently to gripe over having to wait at Target to pick up beauty products that were enclosed behind a glass case.

“The era of Target runs is officially over because tell me why it took me over an hour to buy a single bag of items,” Long posted in a TikTok video earlier this month that snagged over 3.5 million views before she took it down.

“Apparently now my Target locks away essential items,” she said, adding that her body wash, deodorant, and razors were bolted up tight.

As her camera panned to the rows of items behind a glass container, Long added: “Behold the dystopian nightmare that is my Target.”

Reporters from the investigative outlet Inside Edition went shopping at five New York-area Targets to see just how long it takes to get employee assistance to retrieve products locked behind anti-theft cases.

In an aisle stocked with vitamins at a Target store in Manhattan, Inside Edition journalist Lisa Guerrero said she waited 10.5 minutes for an employee to unlock the anti-theft barrier. She had to ask for assistance three times — and wait seven minutes — before a Target staffer showed up.

“And then their key didn’t even work,” Guerrero said, who had to wait even longer for the staffer to fetch the correct key before she could fetch a tube of toothpaste of the shelf.

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Target’s move to lock up everyday items may serve a purpose in combatting shoplifting, but it has everyday shoppers who aren’t out to steal frustrated over having to wait for employee assistance to unlock items behind anti-theft cases.
Helayne Seidman

Crime-battered Target said earlier this year that expected to suffer as much as a $1.3 billion hit to its bottom line because of “theft and organized crime.”

The “cheap-chic” discount chain said its profit will be squeezed by “$500 million more than what we saw last year” – when the company lost as much as $800 million from “inventory shrink.” 

“While there are many potential sources of inventory shrink, theft and organized retail crime are increasingly important drivers of the issue,” the company said. “We are making significant investments in strategies to prevent this from happening in our stores.”

The Minneapolis-based chain even locked up underwear, according to Inside Edition journalist Lisa Guerrero during a Target run at an outpost in Manhattan.
Getty Images

Inventory shrink is an industry term that refers to fewer products being on its shelves than what’s reported in its inventory catalog.

There’s no nationwide policy on how to deal with shoplifting, though many employers have encouraged staffers to do nothing at all in an effort to keep them out of harm’s way.

Lululemon made headlines this summer when it fired two staffers for failing to abide by the yoga wear retailer’s “zero-tolerance policy” for intervening with a robbery.

One of the axed workers, Jennifer Ferguson, said that once a robbery occurs, employees are instructed to “scan a QR code. And that’s that. We’ve been told not to put it in any notes, because that might scare other people. We’re not supposed to call the police, not really supposed to talk about it.”

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A viral video showed the shoplifting incident that got Ferguson fired, where three masked men blatantly robbed an Atlanta-area Lululemon store.

Target is expected to suffer as much as a $1.3 billion hit to its bottom line because of “theft and organized crime.”

Wearing sweatshirts with the hoods pulled over their heads, they were recorded swiping Lululemon’s high-priced athletic wear from tables and displays.

The looters — who had allegedly struck the store nearly a dozen times prior — momentarily stood in the store doorway and stared at the women before jumping back inside to snatch several more pairs of leggings.

“Seriously? Get out,” Ferguson is heard frustratingly shouting at the robbers, who make a beeline out of the store.

Thieves also had repeatedly targeted a Lululemon store in upper Manhattan on Broadway across the street from Columbia University in 2021. Between Jan. 2 and Jan. 17 they stole a total of $5,376 in merchandise, police said.

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