Stores in Windsor are bracing for the busy holiday shopping season.
At the same time, they and police are also bracing for a busy shoplifting season.
According to the Global Retail Theft Barometer in the U.S., an estimated $1.8 billion in merchandise was shoplifted from U.S. retailers during the four weeks leading up to Christmas last year.
During the same period 2010, thieves made off with $1.7 billion worth of shoplifted merchandise.
In Windsor, police say they're prepared to give local retailers what they need in an effort to stop shoplifting.
"We encourage store owners and retailers and business to tell us their concerns and voice their concerns to us so that we can respond as needed within the community," Windsor Police spokesperson Sgt. Matthew D'Asti said.
D'asti said police presence at Devonshire Mall is more frequent during the holidays.
"It's such an open environment that we do experience a lot of it," said Brittany Bellanger, who manages the Speaking Phones kiosk at the mall. "It's definitely hard to keep up with it. But as long as you're aware of it. You have to keep it under control."
Ari Freed, who owns Freed's on Ottawa Street, said he's ready for shoplifters during the Christmas season.
He has a few security measures in place and a prepared staff.
"We have hidden cameras throughout the store. We have actual buttons that we can use if we see shoplifting going on that connects to the police department," he said.
Down the street, Arnold Blaine, who owns Karen's 4of Kids, had a thief throw a brick through the window of his kids clothing store.
He said crime usually isn't a big issue here but it does spike leading up to Christmas.
"We've requested from the police to have occasional foot patrols. We think that would have a deterrent effect," he said.
The RCMP have their own list of tips for business owners online. A few tips include:
- Keep display and clothing racks away from entrances and exits to discourage "hit-and-run" thieves.
- Place hangers front-to-back to prevent thieves from quickly grabbing bundles of display clothing.
- Be alert when the store is crowded. Shoplifters often operate when sales people are busy helping legitimate customers.