(KOMO) - Law enforcement across western Washington continues to deal with an "epidemic" of retail theft.
In a recent case highlighted on social media, Lacey Police say they arrested two suspects who walked out with around $1,000 in merchandise and then rammed a car while trying to flee the scene.
"Our officers obtained and executed a search warrant on the vehicle, and not only located the stolen merchandise, but also counterfeit currency and equipment to produce counterfeit currency," Lacey Police wrote on Facebook.
Police said one person was booked into jail on felony theft, obstruction, possession of a stolen vehicle, malicious mischief, and hit-and-run charges.
Investigators credit staff at the Kohls department store for recognizing the signs of organized theft and contacting police before the couple involved ran out of the store.
“This isn’t somebody shoplifting a pair of socks or earrings, this is $1,000 of high dollar merchandise," said Detective Eric Lever of Lacey Police. “Retail shoplift is just epidemic, it really is.”
According to Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Blake Knoblauch, organized retail theft has become one of the biggest issue for local businesses.
“So many of these stores are operating on razor thin margins, the cost has to be passed along somehow and it is the consumer who takes the hit. When you get businesses that are being constantly hit with theft, eventually they’ll have to close the doors," Knoblauch said.
Earlier this year, the Washington Attorney General's Office announced the creation of the Organized Retail Theft Task Force.
According to the AG's office, Washington saw an increase in retail theft of 151% from 2019 to 2020.
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