WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – A decision to redirect police efforts to combat shoplifting in the East Main Street corridor paid off Thursday with the quick arrest of a Holyoke man who had allegedly attempted to steal a computer.
Capt. Michael McCabe said that there has been an upsurge in shoplifting incidents on the commercial strip and, in response, “we’ve been trying to redirect enforcement efforts in that area.”
He said that officers from the evening shift have been reassigned to plain clothes duty along the shopping strip to combat professional shoplifters who often come to the city to steal because some of the stores are thought to be vulnerable by professional thieves who ply their trade along the I-91 corridor, coming from as far away as New York and Connecticut.
While officers cannot patrol the aisles of all the retail establishments, McCabe said that trained officers can often spot anomalies which can cause them to take a second look at vehicles, and their occupants, that the average resident would find unremarkable.
For example, he said, persons with shoplifting intentions may pay special attention to where they park their cars since a quick departure may be desirable. Therefore, a person waiting in a vehicle, perhaps with an out-of-state plate, parked in a handicap space (which tend to be near store entrances) can be a red flag to an officer and a reason to speak with occupant.
McCabe also said that most chain stores use the same security systems and practices at all of their locations which are often laid out in the same pattern so professional thieves can have their methods well planned in advance. But, since law enforcement professional can spot the same vulnerabilities thieves do, officers on the spot can sometimes take advantage of their predictable behaviors.
Of course, someone running from a store can also be a red flag, if officers are in the parking lot watching.
On Thursday evening, officers Brendan Irujo and William Cavanaugh were in position to see a man running from the Staples store in the Westgate Plaza and followed the man who removed his shirt as he ran.
Cavanaugh reports that the suspect, Joshua R. Dellert, 24, of 130 Pine St., Holyoke, was apprehended literally one minute after a store employee reported that an alarm had sounded when a security cable protecting an iPad was cut.
Dellert was found to be in possession of wire cutters. He was arrested for larceny of property valued more than $250 and possession of a burglarious tool.