MATTHEWS, N.C. — Police in Matthews are cracking down on organized retail crime.

The department completed an organized retail theft sting operation in partnership with the Lowe’s Home Improvement store at 2115 Matthew Township Pkwy.

Tim Aycock, public information officer for the department, said the store had a significantly high number of thefts reported in recent months, and detectives worked with Lowe’s Loss Prevention on this operation.

Aycock said officers used crime analytics to determine the most popular stolen items, how thieves were getting away with merchandise, and the most common days and times the crimes were committed.

The operation also utilized surveillance, increased uniform and undercover patrols, and intelligence.

"These crimes lead to other crimes, unfortunately, a lot of times,” Aycock said. “So, you know, we're trying to stop it in the beginning if we can."

According to a release from Matthews Police, 14 offenders were charged, 30 charges were filed, and 69 outstanding warrants were served. There were 16 larceny from auto cases closed by arrest, and five mail theft/financial fraud cases closed by arrest.

Overall, the operation recovered $5,870 in property.

Lowe’s released a statement:

We thank the Matthews Police Department for their collaboration during this successful operation. Organized retail crime is a growing challenge for the industry, and we actively work with police departments across the country to combat this criminal activity. We appreciate law enforcement’s continued partnership with our stores in the region.

Aycock said organized retail crime is not just an issue in Matthews but a problem law enforcement agencies across the region are dealing with at this time.

“It’s an easy way for them in their mind to get money, quick easy money, but the struggle that they go through and the time that they take to do this,” Aycock said, “yeah, we could just find them employment somewhere else and get them a legitimate job.”

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police formed an Organized Retail Crime Task Force earlier this year after investigating nearly 6,000 of these crimes last year.

On Tuesday, Ski Country Outdoors on South Boulevard in Charlotte fell victim to retail theft.

The business posted a video on Facebook showing a suspected thief running out the front door of the business after reportedly stealing two Yeti coolers valued at a total of about $500.

James Hunt, the store's general manager, said a man was pacing outside the store on a cell phone before seizing on an opportune moment to make a move for the merchandise.

"There's just not a whole lot you can do when that happens 'cause you never know if they're carrying a weapon, what their intentions are, how desperate they need that item,” said Hunt.

The business is hoping someone will recognize the person seen making off with the coolers in what Hunt describes as a gold Hyundai SUV.

"We're just going to be a little more aware of what's going on outside of our business,” Hunt added.

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