News outlets around the country are starting to trot out a new genre of story — “As Economy Dips, Shoplifting Rises.” The News York Times wrote about the phenomenon saying:
Police departments across the country say that shoplifting arrests are 10 percent to 20 percent higher this year than last. The problem is probably even greater than arrest records indicate since shoplifters are often banned from stores rather than arrested.
I ran a quick check on an internal database we keep of arrests and I’m not seeing any huge jumps. One caveat is that our database goes back to the end of November 2007 — but from last December through this month, the number of people booked into the Pierce County jail for shoplifting stayed pretty steady, hovering in the mid-40s each month with some minor fluctuations up and down.
The crime statistics published on the Sheriff’s Department Web site back up what our booking data shows:
Shoplifting incidents in Tacoma
November 2007: 152
November 2008: 151
Increase: .5 percent
If you were just to compare December-to-date with last December-to-date in our booking data, shoplifting arrests climbed from 26 to 34. With number that small, the increase of eight bookings is a 30 percent rise.