Officials say retail theft rings growing in South Mississippi

Officials say retail theft rings growing in South Mississippi

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi Police say four of the five suspects in the September Victoria's Secret felony shoplifting case have been arrested. One has yet to be identified.

The heist isn't the first, nor will it be the last of its kind in South Mississippi. In fact, authorities say retail theft crime rings are growing.

But retailers and law enforcement agencies are developing a big weapon against it: social media.

"It plays a huge role because, in today's society, people are traveling," said Maj. Chris DeBack with the Biloxi Police Department. "And on any social media site, you have friends all over the state all over the region. When people share it, it goes much further than us looking around the local area."

Wendy Swetman with Swetman Securities has been on the front lines of loss prevention for decades.

"Shoplifting has definitely increased. With the retailers increasing and certainly our I-10 corridor, there are rings of these shoplifters that work together," Swetman said. "They figure out ways the circumvent security measures inside the stores."

And what's even more concerning is that thieves have become more violent with sales associates.

The Promenade is particularly susceptible. Shoplifting crime being reported more because it's easier. The D'Iberville Police Department has a specialized Retail Crime Unit, made of two full-time officers.

Social media has helped them do their jobs.

"We have retailers that work with us on social media that notify us immediately when there's a suspicious person in the store and so now we know more about these rings because it's brought to light," said Lt. Shannon Nobles with the D'Iberville Police Department. "They communicate with each other and so it kind of makes a stronger front to fight this battle."

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