KALAMAZOO, Mich. — On any given day, the Kalamazoo County Jail typically holds more than 400 inmates. Now the sheriff says a larger part of that number will be shoplifters.
Since the jail expanded to 482 beds in October 2013, officers around the county are being told to bring shoplifters, even first offenders, directly to jail until they can post bail. This new initiative is an effort between the sheriff’s department, local law enforcement, and area retailers to stop an recent increase in shoplifting complaints.
Sheriff Richard Fuller tells FOX 17 that between 2011 and 2014, shoplifting complaints have increased by 50 percent: from 514 retail fraud incidents in 2011 to 776 in 2014.
“That’s a huge jump in the actual numbers of the complaints for that type of call,” said Sheriff Fuller.
Due to jail overcrowding, instead of going to jail shoplifters would get a citation for retail fraud, but then many wouldn’t even show up for their court date. Many were repeat offenders.
“We were seeing some of the same people going back and committing the same crimes, because in our minds, and the way we would hear some of it was, ‘well I’m not going to jail anyway,'” said Sheriff Fuller.
With more room in the County jail, Sheriff Fuller said they are encouraging local law enforcement agencies to bring all suspects caught shoplifting to jail. They hope local business managers will call officers to arrest shoplifters and curb the growing problem.
“We want to make it clear, there is a consequence,” said Sheriff Fuller.