Three Hermiston residents are being accused of organized retail theft after police say they were caught stealing goods from three Kennewick stores.
Dena Faulstich, 38, Angela Stellings, 23, and Jerome Price, 27, were arrested Thursday after an employee at Famous Footwear spotted them concealing shoes inside the store, said Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin.
The suspects were chased out of the store and caught as officers arrived. That's when additional property stolen from Ranch & Home and Craft Warehouse was spotted inside their car, he said.
In addition to the shoes from Famous Footwear, officers recovered a heater and some tools taken from Ranch & Home, and pens, pencils and paper swiped from Craft Warehouse, he said.
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"Normally, it's the tip of the iceberg," Lattin told the Herald. "Organized retail theft is huge. Kennewick is the retail hub of the Mid-Columbia and even further, because of that, we end up being the retail shoplifting hub."
To try to reduce or prevent shoplifting, Kennewick police provide training and resources to stores to help loss prevention personnel and staff.
In many cases, stores can file their shoplifting cases directly to the Kennewick city attorney for charges, Lattin said, instead of having to wait for officers to take and file their reports.
Officers also share and receive information, as often as possible, with businesses, including sending out pictures of shoplifting suspects so employees can be on the lookout for them, he said.
"That's the key -- being vigilant, watching these people, sharing information and holding them accountable for everything we possibly can," Lattin said.
"Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, contrary to popular belief. ... You and I, the honest shoppers, end up paying more to overcome those losses."