GIG HARBOR, Wash. — Shoplifting is on the rise amid the holiday shopping season, and Gig Harbor police are warning the thefts are becoming more organized.
Karrie Polinsky is excited about this holiday season. As a spark specialist at Tickled Pink, Polinsky loves seeing the spark in people's eyes as they get their Christmas shopping done, especially after last year.
"We are so blessed to have our doors open. Our town is so generous and so supportive!" Polinsky said. "It's just so great to see those happy faces again, in all aspects, and they come in for that Christmas holiday feel, and they wanna experience everything since they're a year behind or so."
But as Polinsky looks forward to helping shoppers spread some holiday cheer, she's also keeping an eye out.
Gig Harbor Police Chief Kelly Busey says shoplifting is a growing problem, and not just for Gig Harbor.
"It's all over Western Washington, if not the whole state, if not the whole West Coast. Shoplifting, retail theft, even organized retail theft, is absolutely exploding right now," Busey said.
So far, most of the shoplifting is taking place at larger retailers, which may be due to policies preventing employees from directly confronting shoplifters, Busey said.
Chief Busey says so far, most of the shoplifting is taking place at the larger retailers and says it may be due to policies that prevent employees from directly confronting shoplifters.
"We don't want them to physically intervene with a suspected shoplifter, we don't want them to get hurt, but also maybe sometimes they're not allowed to call the police while a crime is occurring."
Could the spike in shoplifting trickle down to smaller stores? Polinsky says she isn't too worried, because there isn't a lot she can do about it.
She hopes creating a friendly environment might make a difference.
"If people want to steal something, if they need it that bad enough, they're gonna take it, it doesn't matter," she said. "I think the more aware and proactive we can be, by helping each other and helping the people we have in our stores, it hopefully lessens the chance, but we can only do our best."