Winning Chamber Program Sends a Message to Shoplifters
The following program won Honorable Mention in the 5th Annual Chamber Innovation Awards Competition.
The Chico Chamber of Commerce and the local police department deemed 2018 “The Year of Accountability.” Together they launched the Chico Retail Watch program to empower area retailers to fight shoplifting, and as a way to respond to new laws that increased the threshold for felony charges.
Local retailers had been reporting annual losses upwards of $250,000 individually due to shoplifting. However, some retailers were reluctant to report due to a lack of (real or perceived) police response.
In support of a community suffering from brazen shoplifting, the chamber initiated the Chico Retail Watch education and awareness program which partners local police and area businesses. Representatives from law enforcement and retail businesses conduct monthly meetings to discuss theft prevention, reporting, and prosecution procedures, as well as state and local regulations, and best practices for identifying and reducing shoplifting. Meetings are open to retail owners, managers, employees, and loss prevention officers.
The program has allowed retailers to come together and help one another through the sharing of experiences and ideas. There has been a shift in corporate policies from “hands-off” to “hands-on” practices and electing to prosecute shoplifters.
The program launched in February 2018, and by July, local law enforcement reported a 209% increase in shoplifting calls, a 23% uptick in arrests, and a 57% increase in prosecutions. Retail Watch encourages merchants to prevent, report, and prosecute -- and it’s working!