A California sheriff accused retailer Target of preventing deputies from apprehending shoplifters despite Target stores requesting help to curb a rise in retail crime.

“We don’t tell big retail how to do their jobs, they shouldn’t tell us how to do ours,” Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper wrote on X in a post last week.

Elaborating, he wrote that “recently, we tried to help Target,” according to the post. “Our Property Crimes detectives and sergeant were contacted numerous times by Target to help them with shoplifters, mostly who were known transients. We coordinated with them and set up an operation with detectives.”

But he alleged that Target’s head of regional security told the sheriff’s office that deputies can’t contact suspects in the Target store or could not handcuff them inside the store. Target then allegedly told deputies that if they arrested a perpetrator, they had to be processed outside behind the store and “in the rain.”

“We were told they didn’t want to create a scene inside the store and have people film it and put it on social media. They didn’t want negative press. Unbelievable,” Mr. Cooper added.

Deputies, he said, saw a woman on camera bring in her own bags and “go down the body wash isle” before grabbing “Native body washes.” After that, the woman “went to customer service to return them,” he wrote.

“Target chose to do nothing and simply let it happen,” the sheriff continued. “Yet somehow, locking up deodorant and raising prices on everyday items we need to survive is their best answer.”

The Epoch Times contacted Target for comment Sunday. The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based retail giant has not publicly commented on Mr. Cooper’s post.

The sheriff’s complaints about the firm’s shoplifting policies comes as a number of retailers, including Target, have been locking up more items behind glass or using other means to prevent shoplifting. Over the past several years, there have been a rash of social media videos of large groups of people rushing into stories before taking items and running out.

In some areas like San Francisco and Chicago, some major U.S. chains have opted to close stores due to concerns about theft and the safety of employees.

As for Sacramento, the California capital city was ranked No. 7 among the top cities and metropolitan areas that were impacted by organized gangs of shoplifters in 2022, according to a National Retailers Federation survey. Los Angeles and San Francisco-Oakland were ranked as No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the survey.

Other cities in the top 10 include New York City, Houston, Miami, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, and Dallas-Fort Worth. The organization has estimated that retail theft accounted for more than $113 billion in industry losses across the United States last year.

In late September, Target’s leadership announced it would shut down nine stores in four states, including one in New York City’s East Harlem, three in the San Francisco Bay Area, and three stores in Portland, Oregon.

The Minneapolis retailer said the decision to close the stores was difficult. “We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all,” Target said in a statement at the time.

Target said it has invested heavily in strategies to prevent theft, such as adding more security workers, using third-party guard services, and installing theft-deterrent tools, like locking up merchandise. It also says it has trained store leaders and security-team members to protect themselves and de-escalate potential safety issues.

But it noted that it still faced “fundamental challenges” to operate the stores safely—and the business performance at the locations slated for closure was unsustainable.

In August, Target CEO Brian Cornell told analysts violent incidents targeting workers at its stores increased 120 percent for the first five months of 2023, as compared with last year.

“Our team continues to face an unacceptable amount of retail theft and organized retail crime,” he told analysts at the time, according to reports. “Unfortunately, safety incidents associated with theft are moving in the wrong direction.”

The sheriff’s criticism against Target also comes as the retail giant faced a boycott over LGBT items that were featured during its “pride month” sales event in June. Some conservatives said that the firm was selling items deemed inappropriate for children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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