Rock Hill Police & Other Local Agencies Fight Organized Shoplifting Rings

ROCK HILL, S.C. – Local police are working to fight organized shoplifting rings that target big box stores.

You can call it gutsy, bold, or brazen. Police in Rock Hill and across our area are all too familiar with it.

“They load it up in the middle of the day, push it on out, and hope they don’t get caught,” says Det. Matthew Beach, with Rock Hill Police.

Beach says the rings often travel across the region. Rock Hill Police work with other local agencies to help solve cases.

“We’ll send pictures around to each other, try to identify who is going in to do which stores and what they’re taking. A lot of times they shoplift the same thing,” Beach says.

WCCB Charlotte went through dozens of Rock Hill police reports from the past four months. Two stores show up over and over again: Walmart on Old York Road and Home Depot off Celanese Road.

In one instance, three women stole more than $13,000 worth of iPhones from Walmart in December. The police report says one woman distracted the clerk, another served as lookout, and the third stuffed phones in a bag.

At Home Depot, two people got away with more than $2,500 in power tools in January.

“Whether you’re gonna go after him or you’re not gonna go after him, you gotta weigh all that out,” explains Julius Ulanday, with Security Consult, Inc.

Ulanday says often businesses won’t stop shoplifters because of liability issues.

The problem is so bad in Charlotte, CMPD launched a shoplifting task force in January. The department investigated 6,000 shoplifting cases last year, up 13 percent from the year before.

Ulanday says people working for shoplifting rings hope, even if they’re caught on camera, that local police won’t be able to ID them.

“What they do is they go into different places where nobody recognizes them,” he explains.