A Dallas police policy change that made it harder for store owners to report small-time shoplifting cases brought down petty shoplifting reports by a whopping 75 percent last year. The shoplifting continues, but much of it is no longer reported or counted as a crime, says the Dallas Morning News. The policy that went into effect early last year requires retailers to report thefts under $50 by mail. Police don't come to the scene of the crime anymore except in certain situations, such as when a suspect refuses to identify himself or herself. Even then, officers are not supposed to issue a citation or fill out a police report. The net effect is that about a third of Dallas' highly touted 11 percent drop in crime last year came about because police no longer respond to the shoplifting calls and retailers are reluctant to hassle with reporting the petty thefts.
Petty shoplifting offenses plummeted on the day the policy went into effect, on Jan. 5, 2012, and stayed at that reduced level the rest of the year. Police Chief David Brown has repeatedly disputed those findings. He attributes the dramatic drop in petty shoplifting reports largely to good police work.”The only people that should be upset about this policy are the thieves,” Brown said. “The larger retailers, they love the results.” The Texas Retailers Association, which helped craft the new policy and supports the concept, says retailers feel the system is not working. “None of them really argue the concept but they all have a problem with the system because it's broken,” said spokesman Joe Williams.