Dallas police are enthusiastically touting a 12 percent drop in overall crime this year. Nearly a third of that reduction is because of a new policy that makes it harder for store owners to report shoplifting cases under $50, reports the Dallas Morning News. Police Chief David Brown disputed that finding, saying the low numbers of reported retail thefts are the result of good police work, not the change in reporting policy. He said his department's new crackdown on “fences” — people who buy and sell stolen goods — drove shoplifting lower. He said the new focus has led to this year's double-digit drops in burglaries and other types of theft. These reductions have caused the drop in the overall crime rate, which consists mostly of property crimes.
The Morning News says the drop in shoplifting cases occurred on the same day the new reporting policy took effect; the decrease occurred before the new focus on fencing operations was substantially under way. Many small store managers say the new policy makes it unlikely they will report petty shoplifting cases. More serious shoplifting offenses have dropped only slightly. Bruce Prettyman, a retired Dallas property crimes detective, scoffed at Brown's assertion that the focus on fencing operations produced the dramatic drop in shoplifting. “He's playing with the numbers, trying to reduce his crimes,” the veteran detective said. “If you can't report it, it's not a crime. If it's not a crime, it doesn't go into the stats.”