DeWitt sees rise in petit larcenies during holidays

Minutes from a recent East Syracuse Village Board meeting reported an uprise in petit larcenies during the holiday months. Judge Donald Benack said the monthly average is 15, but during November and December, that number may increase about 20 percent.

In the town of DeWitt, Police Chief Eugene Conway said arrests average about 35 per month, but rise another five to 10 during the busiest shopping season of the year. Most of those arrested are female, younger and unemployed, Conway said. This data is captured from arrest reports.

"We find a large variety of suspects that steal from the stores," added East Syracuse Police Chief Don Morris. "The individuals who we apprehend stealing from vehicles are usually teenage or early 20s and are from the immediate area."

Petit larceny, a misdemeanor, is defined as stealing property that has a value of less than $1,000. This excludes vehicles, debit or credit cards, which all fall under grand larceny.

"The majority of arrests usually come or result from those stores that have security personnel," Conway said. "Some stores have a very proactive approach to shoplifting and are the people who call 911 when they have caught someone stealing."

Such stores include JC Penney, Sears, Marshalls and Wegmans. Other retail outlets may choose to ignore shoplifting that occurs in their stores. The difference in the way petit larcenies are handled from store to store usually comes from a corporate position on the matter.

Shoplifting methods

Generally, larcenies are committed by individuals, however, group thefts also occur, allowing for large amounts of property to be stolen in a short period of time.

"They utilize distraction methods and have special clothing they wear to disguise what they are carrying out," Conway said. "Also, during the holiday season, those committing these thefts capitalize on the fact that stores are more crowded and therefore people/security personnel are more easily distracted, allowing them to blend in more easily."

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