Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

January 2, 2014

Store works to discourage shoplifting

Steve Woodhouse

Knoxville — After being the victims of several shoplifting incidents, Knoxville Farm & Home decided to try something new to deter would-be thieves, and one juvenile is expected to soon be charged in an incident that went viral. 

Jeff McLaren, Operations Manager at Knoxville Farm & Home said the store wanted to take a stand. It has been rumored that a "badge of honor" is earned by high school students if they are able to successfully steal Under Armour® brand apparel. To curb this shoplifting trend, McLaren placed the apparel in plain view of a store camera. 

The store caught a male stealing approximately $130 worth of the apparel on Dec. 27, 2013, at 1 p.m. The store chose to post the video of the theft, which shows a distorted view of the suspect's face, on the store's Facebook page. As of Thursday, Jan. 2, at around 4 p.m., McLaren said this video had been viewed by 32,208 people. It had also been "shared" 396 times. 

Because of the store's actions, numerous tips came in to the store. Knoxville Police Lt. Aaron Fuller said that a 17-year-old male suspect, from the Bussey area, has been identified. Officer Ken Hucks is expected to meet with the suspect and his parents when Hucks returns to duty in a few days. The suspect will be referred to Juvenile Court Services, where he will be charged with theft-fourth degree. 

McLaren said part of his decision to post the video was to demonstrate the "brazen" shoplifting that has been going on. He wanted to present the retail outlet's perspective on this kind of theft. 

The operations manager also wanted to thank everyone who helped the store and the police by providing information, and for all that has been done to this point. Fuller also thanked those who have offered help in identifying the suspect.