Party in Pants Cuts Profits, Raises Prices | News
ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- At the Orange Park party store it was caught on camera.
"There she goes. One more time. She loads a little bit more, turns her back to the door and loads a little bit more and she's on her way home," said Dana Zaifert.
Zaifert was pointing to a shoplifter stuffing his merchandise into her pants.
"This is pretty disgusting," he said.
Zaifert owns three Party City stores, and he said the economic downturn has inflated the shoplifting problem.
"Ticked up immediately and it has been worst ever since," said Zaifert.
He said the thieves are taking the wind out of his profits.
"It is appalling. Business is business and shrinkage is part of business," said Zaifert. "From a societal point of view, it is appalling."
The Clay County Sheriff's Office gave us a snapshot of the problem:
In 2009, there were 759 cases of retail thefts. In 2010 the numbers went down to 680, but in 2011 it spiked to 765 cases with 641 arrests.
It has gotten so bad the Party City store expanded its monitoring systems; it went from eight cameras to 32 cameras per store.
"It has actually helped us," he said.
Caught on camera: A woman in the Regency Party City store who uses a large sign to hide behind while she stuffs the merchandise into a big bag.
Then she switched positions with an accomplice who took more merchandise and stuffed her pants.
"I was angry and all my employees were sick that we missed that one," said Zaifert. "They're not afraid of what is going to happen to them."
Zaifert said four days later a woman, wearing the same clothing, went into his Orange Park store and stuffs her pants again.
She got away, but the cameras never blink and have caught shoplifters of all race, all age, all gender even with disabilities.
We saw an elderly looking couple using their wheel chairs to hide their stuff.
"She hands the stuff behind to him he loads up her cart and chair," said Zaifert.
Frustrated by the increased cases of shoplifting, Zaifert has taken a tough stance.
"I don't care the age, the sex, the race the dollar amount I will prosecute 100%," he said.
Recently store employees tried to keep a woman suspected of shoplifting from leaving the store by standing in front of the door while they waited for police, but as soon as she saw an opportunity to run she dashed out the store.
Zaifert would not give us a dollar amount of his losses, but he said they add up and then they're passed on to customers.
"Everybody, every one pays more because shrinkage is figured into the mark up. It is always going to get passed on to the customers. You are going to pay more because somebody does not pay at all," he said.
Zaifert said he will do whatever it takes to keep the party crashers out of his Party City stores.
"We just don't let them get away with it," he said.
We wanted to know the scope of the problem in Duval County, but JSO has yet to provide the information.