COVINGTON, Wash. — Covington police estimate stores in the area lose thousands of dollars every day in retail theft. It's one department looking to combat this crime as a new statewide organized retail crimes taskforce is scheduled to begin.
On June 30, two Covington Police Officers parked outside the city's Fred Meyer to stop thieves. Five people were caught and charged, two of those individuals were booked into jail. The department estimated in just that afternoon the officers stopped thieves from taking more than $3,000 in merchandise.
"A lot of them will just load up a cart and just walk right out and it's $400 to $500 bucks," said Covington Chief of Police Adam Easterbrook, "We just don't want to be an inviting community for crime."
Easterbrook acknowledges, even with the department's efforts theft is still a problem in Covington.
"You're looking at a community where $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 is stolen pretty regularly," said Easterbrook.
However, theft is a statewide issue and it's prompting changes on a statewide level.
The same day officers in Covington were holding theft emphasis patrols, Bellevue Police arrested a 43-year-old resident who's accused of stealing more than $4,000 in merchandise. Bellevue Police said the arrest came just days after the state announced an organized retail crime taskforce.
“I found in my experience, from working with other task forces and other contexts, that sharing of information helps with enforcement, helps with prevention, raises the profile of the issue, and gets folks in the room to make sure we go after the bad guys, hold them accountable, and the provide the resources we need to help retailers and small businesses who’re dealing with these challenges," said state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
"A generalized taskforce, I think it's a great idea. I think it can actually have an impact," said Easterbrook.
The taskforce will meet for the first time this week.