New Retail C.O.P program helps police and businesses target thieves

The Lethbridge Regional Police Service has implemented a new online network designed to enhance communication and intelligence-sharing with local retail businesses in order to identify and apprehend thieves.

Retail C.O.P (Cameras on Patrol) is a web-based, interactive site where photographs and video surveillance images of retail criminals, suspected criminals and retail crime activity can be posted. The site went live in August and so far 39 local businesses have signed up. The goal of the program, which has been successfully operating in Calgary for the past two years, is to empower loss prevention officers, business owners and managers to better share information with each other and police.

Locally, over the past two years shoplifting has increased by about 34 per cent.

“Lethbridge has a fairly small number of people committing a large number of thefts,” said Cst. Steve Baker, Community Liaison Officer. “Of the 518 shoplifting occurrences in 2014, there were 59 individuals involved in multiple offences.”

Baker adds the city has also been victimized by travelling criminals who visit specifically to commit crime, then aggressively target local businesses before moving on to the next community.

Retail C.O.P provides a central repository for retail businesses to post surveillance images and other information about offenders – including their identity, possible identity and modus operandi. Once posted, the images and details are immediately available to others in the network and will help loss prevention officers and business managers better recognize offenders so they can take steps to prevent thefts from occurring.

LRPS is the gatekeeper of the program and will also use the information to map criminal activity, identify prolific offenders and develop enforcement strategies to apprehend them. As part of the program, police will also provide businesses with additional crime prevention and theft-reduction training.

The Retail C.O.P. network is free for retail businesses to join.

Visit https://lethbridge.retailcop.ca/ to sign up.

Retail businesses can also contact Cst. Baker for more information 403-330-5020 or email steven.baker@lrps.ca

**Cst. Baker will be available for media interviews Wednesday, November 25 at 10 a.m. at the police station. He’ll also provide a short demo of the site for photos and videos**