A special plain-clothed overtime police detail was able to catch numerous shoplifters this summer at Aurora Farms Premium Outlets, Police Chief Brian Byard said Oct. 1.

Overall, officers worked 176 overtime hours and recovered more than $10,000 in stolen merchandise, starting June 5 after the city received a $12,000 grant from Ohio Criminal Justice Services.

“Our goal was to combat organized retail theft rings by arresting shoplifters, reduce the number of shoplifting incidents and educate retail associates,” Byard said. “Over the course of the three months, the enforcement action resulted in numerous arrests for theft and receiving stolen property, and the seizure of thousands of dollars in counterfeit currency.”

In June, officers worked 62 overtime hours, resulting in 14 arrests, five of which were repeat offenders involved in organized retail theft.

In July, officers worked 29 overtime hours, which resulted in four arrests. In August, officers compiled 85 overtime hours with two arrests.

Byard said those targeted were “professional shoplifters” carrying booster bags and the tools necessary to remove security sensors.

“They’re often the repeat offenders well known to mall security,” he said, adding within the first hour of the detail, Aurora police arrested two people for shoplifting after they attempted to flee on foot.

“The increase in hours and the decrease in arrests are a good indicator that word had spread among those who target shopping malls around Northeast Ohio” because the suspects had less of a presence over the summer, he said.

“We are happy to see that some of the habitual offenders have been caught and prosecuted accordingly,” Byard said. “We hope to receive additional grant funding in the future for other details around the city.”

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