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      If it wasn't for thieves, you would have $98 more for Christmas shopping

      Retail Theft Coalition

      The crime of shoplifting has added an extra $98 to the average American family's holiday shopping bill.

      That's the finding of a new study by the Centre for Retail Research. The study found that U.S. retailers are expected to lose $8.9 billion over the holiday season due to shoplifting. The study figures that's 4 percent more than the losses sustained by the industry last year. The primary contributors to retail crime are employee theft (53 percent) and shoplifting (42 percent.)

      The 10 most stolen product categories include 1) alcohol, 2) women's clothing, 3) toys, 4) perfume and beauty supplies, 5) electronic devises, 6) DVD gift sets and fame consoles, 7) food, 8) hardware, 9) watches and jewelry and 10) chocolates and confectionery.

      The shoplifting problem is so pervasive that the Dewitt Police Department has established a "Retail Theft Coalition." Sergeant Scott Kapral pointed out to CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that there were more than 1600 shoplifting calls to area police agencies in Onondaga County in 2011.

      Kapral says that many of the thieves are "organized" and well aware of local laws and jurisdictions surrounding the crime. Kapral found that many retailers, police agencies and courts were not sharing information so that shoplifters could commit crimes in several different towns and still go unnoticed.

      Kapral has established a website which allows law enforcement and retailers to share information, including surveillance video that not only helps capture shoplifters but also results in more severe felony criminal charges. He says the Retail Theft Coalition has grown in the past two years to include more than 170 law enforcement agencies and businesses.

      One such business is Pascale's Liquor Square at 3150 Erie Boulevard East in Dewitt. Manager Sean Gosch says in addition to consulting with the Dewitt Police Department, the store has installed a highly sophisticated surveillance system, trained workers to detect possible shoplifters, reward employees who discover fake identification, and removed from the shelves 60 items that are most often stolen. Those items are now stored behind the cash registers and can only be accessed by store personnel. Gosch says Liquor Square has cut down on its shoplifting losses by 95 percent