To unsuspecting passers-by, the people in a nearby store aisle might not spark curiosity. They're browsing for goods, seemingly unaware of each other's existence. When the right moment strikes, says the Las Vegas Sun, police say these organized retail thieves transform into a fast-acting team: One swipes bundles of merchandise, while others serve as lookouts. In a matter of minutes, they're gone — along with sometimes thousands of dollars of merchandise — and off to hit their next target, police say.
“It's not what people typically view as shoplifting,” said Sgt. Will Seifert, of Las Vegas Metro Police's property crimes unit. “These are teams that work together, usually with two or as many as four, five, six (people), and they come in with a designed plan.” Enter the Retail Apprehension and Prevention team, or RAP. The new undercover initiative operates on a similar premise: Plainclothes officers work in teams, blending in as customers while scouring stores for the crime rings. It's a hunting game as officers discreetly track the suspects from one store to another, watching as they steal hordes of goods. Once officers determine the suspects have established a pattern, they drop their shopper façades and make arrests.