by Zero Hedge

Nationwide retail theft has erupted into a $100 billion crisis. Brick-and-mortar stores have expanded theft-deterrent merchandising strategies to mitigate unprecedented losses for companies

In New York City, 34th Street Partnership, a non-profit retail trade group serving Midtown retailers, hired a security firm that provides K-9 units equipped with handlers, the New York Post reported. 

Earlier this month, the K-9 program was launched at the CVS at Eighth Avenue and West 34th Street. The pharmacies have been plagued with thefts. 

“We’ve had a lot of complaints. A lot of shoplifting occurs in drugstores,” said Kevin Ward, the vice president of security for the 34th Street Partnership.

“It’s effective so far,” said Ward. He added, “We’ve had a couple of people who were known shoplifters who saw the dog and walked out without stealing anything.”

Between Feb. 15-19, K-9 units prevented at least 25 thefts at the CVS stores. Here are some examples of how the K-9s are visible deterrent shields for stores (list provided by NYPost):

  • On Feb. 15: a homeless man attempted to leave the store with unpaid items in the morning. He dropped the goods and fled after being approached by the security officer and the K-9.
  • On Feb. 16: Two known serial shoplifters entered the vestibule of the store — but left without entering after seeing the K-9 and guard.
  • On Feb. 17: A man attempted to leave the store without paying for two boxes of Tums and three bottles of juice that morning. The manager alerted the guard and K-9, and the thief returned the items when approached.
  • On Feb. 19: A homeless man attempted to steal a carton of orange juice along with a container of fruit salad, but returned the goods after management alerted the K-9 and security, who confronted him.

The canine patrol is a pilot project as desperate retailers in Midtown grapple with out-of-control shoplifting. There were more than 1,000 theft complaints last year versus 2021.