Bay Area liquor store chain pushing Tampa PD to do more to go after shoplifters

Lueken's Liquor says shoplifters getting physical

TAMPA, Fla. -  

The owner of one of the Bay Area's largest liquor store chains says he's dealing with a persistent shoplifting problems and Tampa Police are not responding.

Chris Jallo, owner of Lueken's Liquor, says his Tampa store on Kennedy Boulevard has had items stolen several times in the last few months and Tampa Police will not come out, arrest the suspects or do anything about the theft.

Most recently, Lueken's captured a person shoplifting on surveillance camera Thursday afternoon and Jallo said they did not respond.

Susan Jallo, Chris Jallo's sister says she's tried calling police multiple times in response to shoplifting calls and down to the precinct, but said she was not given any help.

"Here, I have to beg and beg for someone to come out," she said.

Chris Jallo says this makes it harder for businesses to operate and incentivizes thieves to steal in the Tampa area.

"Word's gotten out and these criminals are being incentivized to steal by the lack of response by the police department," he said.

Jallo says he does not have any of these problems with stores in other cities, including Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Clearwater Police or Tarpon Springs Police.

ABC Action News went to Tampa Police to ask about their response times and shoplifting call protocols.

Tampa Police said they do have a Retail Theft Investigation policy.

Retail theft offenses are a common type of call for police services. In order to streamline reporting of certain misdemeanor retail theft cases that do not result in an on-scene arrest, the Retail Theft Form is used, said Eddy Durkin, a spokesperson for Tampa Police.
 
If a complainant has a call that is in-progress, or is a felony, we will dispatch an officer to initiate the call, Durkin said.

If there is a complaint of delayed shoplifting, at a misdemeanor level, police encourage the owners to go to TPD's website and follow the instructions on the form to complete a delayed report. 

This allows officers to focus on in-progress/high priority calls, police said.
 
If a store worker insists on an officer being dispatched to their location for a delayed misdemeanor case, a call will be generated and an officer will respond when available.

The officer will then assist the complainant in how to complete the Retail Theft Form, Durkin said.
 
However, Chris Jallo does not feel that simply filling out an online form will deter career shoplifters.

"That's not going to do anything to eliminate the theft or do anything to eliminate the hard or the potential for harm for my staff," Jallo said.

Liquor store employees are now concerned simple shoplifting could soon turn into something more, like armed robbery.

"We'd like at least one cop to come out and show support," said Charbel Sakr, a Lueken's Liquor employee. "We're on their side."

 

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