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Merry stealing

Burglary arrests mar pre-Christmas shopping

Staff Writer

BARSTOW • While big-retailer merchandise flew off the shelves in the days leading up to Christmas, not all of it was paid for, resulting in 25 burglary arrests in San Bernardino County between Sunday and Christmas day, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s daily bookings log.

A Walmart in Victorville, a Target in Apple Valley, another Walmart in Hesperia — arrests were made at various retail chains, all cogs in a larger machine, accounting for approximately $3.75 billion worth of holiday season theft in the U.S., according to the UK-based Centre for Retail Research.

Three of the 25 arrested were Barstow residents, according to the bookings log.

Barstow Police Interim Lieutenant Mike Hunter said the department typically receives more retail crime-related calls during the holiday season.

“We do,” he said. “The biggest part is that criminals are trying to meet their own needs.”

With that, Hunter said he is referring to getting and giving Christmas gifts.

He noted that calls increase specifically from the Lenwood area, where the outlet mall is, and to a lesser extent, Walmart.

To combat would-be shoplifters, Barstow Police increased patrols of those high-volume shopping areas during Christmas and provided additional training to officers so that they become familiar with crime trends.

At Home Depot, Operations Manager Fred Schmidt said the store encountered its fair share of issues.

“Definitely saw some,” he said, when asked about cognizance of crime within the store. “Yeah, we definitely had our share of problems.”

He explained that beginning around Black Friday, Home Depot ran into issues daily with product theft and suspicious returns.

The good news for Barstow, which faces these issues on a smaller scale than its down-the-hill counterparts, is that burglaries, shoplifting and petty thefts are down between Nov. 15 and Tuesday when compared to the same time last year.

All in all, the 22 reported burglaries during the 2012 holiday season is down five from last year; the 3 reported shoplifting incidents, down nine; and the eight reported petty thefts is down six, according to information provided by Barstow Police.

A manager at Walmart in Barstow — an oft-hit store in its other county locations, per the bookings log — could not speak to the store’s shoplifting trends. The Tanger Outlet manager could not be reached, as she was on vacation.

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