SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Businesses are keeping a sharp eye on their customers as more of them show up in stores for holiday shopping. The crime of shoplifting can have a big impact on small shops, even when the littlest items are stolen. One Sioux Falls business owner has developed a sixth-sense about suspicious customers.
The owner of the Home Porch gift shop in downtown Sioux Falls is getting her merchandise ready for the holiday season, ever mindful that not everyone thinks they should pay for what’s in the store.
“Sometimes you get people that talk to you and act like they’re not doing anything wrong and you’d be surprised and then all of the sudden, like something’s gone,” Home Porch owner Amy Dossett said.
Amy Dossett says shoplifters typically snatch items that are small enough to fit in their pockets or under their coats. She has several surveillance cameras inside that allow her to watch for any suspicious activities in the front and back of the store.
“They’ll just like pretend and then they’ll walk way over here and just kind of whoop! Out the door,” Dossett said.
Sioux Falls police say shoplifting is a crime of opportunity that takes place year-round, not just during the holidays. They see about 3-5 shoplifting reports every day.
“We’ve even seen it where people steal from a store and they’re a frequent customer of that store. So sometimes the employees know them or recognize them,” Sam Clemens of the Sioux Falls Police Department said.
Clemens says police have not seen any recent increase in shoplifting calls. But Dossett expects more thefts are likely this holiday season due to inflation’s impact. She says small businesses like hers don’t have the overhead to absorb retail thefts, so the cost ends up being passed onto the customers.
“We try to keep our prices as low as we can for everybody, but when we have shoplifters, we have to make up for that,” Dossett said.
Dossett says it can be frightening having to confront a customer she suspects of shoplifting. But she says the customer will often drop the item on the floor and then leave her store. Then there are the times when other customers come to her aid in stopping a shoplifter.