Combatting theft in Sisters
Last updated 8/16/2022 at Noon
Local folks were shocked at the news that thieves hit the Sunglass Hut in the Old Mill District for $20,000 in product earlier this month. It was the kind of brazen shoplifting incident that has been occurring in bigger cities across the nation for the past couple of years.
Lt. Chad Davis of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office acknowledged that Sisters is not immune from such incidents and offered some tips for retailers. Davis emphasized that the safety of store staff and customers is paramount.
“We don’t want people to be hurt over property that can be replaced through insurance,” he said.
In the event of a theft or the discovery of a prior theft, “certainly calling 911 as soon as possible” is helpful.
“After that, making sure that you are a good witness,” should be the priority,” Davis said.
Getting a vehicle license plate and color and direction of travel is some of the most crucial information you can provide law enforcement.
Surveillance cameras are useful, potentially as a deterrent, but also as evidence for law enforcement investigation — but it’s important to get video to law enforcement quickly. That means staff should be trained in how to use video.
“Knowing how to review and extract that video and get it to law enforcement is key,” Lt. Davis said. “You can’t just buy a video system — you have to know how to use it.”
Cameras in the store and on parking areas may be a good option.
“Decide what is right for your business and probably consult with a security company if you don’t have the knowledge to do it yourself,” Davis advised. “Make yourself as hard a target as you can.”
“We need photos of these people,” Davis said, noting that outdoor cameras have helped solve crimes in the Sisters area.
Lt. Davis strongly urges shop owners, staff, or customers to call if something doesn’t look or feel right. Such calls should go to the nonemergency dispatch number, 541-693-6911. Deputies can pay a visit to a store and assess a situation discreetly.
Davis said that there are many instances where citizens didn’t report suspicious activity out of a misplaced hesitancy.
According to Davis, they’ll say something along the lines of “‘We saw this, but we didn’t want to bother you guys because we thought you were busy.’ Please call. We always want to encourage people to call. We’d much rather work on the front end than the back end” of an incident.
Lt. Davis said that his team responds to a relatively limited number of shoplifting reports.
They also respond to disruptive, disorderly people in shops and other business establishments.
“If they have problems with any customer, we can respond and trespass them from the business,” he said. “We actually have more of those than we have theft cases.”
Any kind of disturbance or argument can be grounds to contact law enforcement, “where they just don’t want that person to come back to their business,” Davis noted.
That intervention is usually enough to take care of the problem.
“We usually don’t have a problem, but we have arrested people who have come back to the business after they’ve been trespassed,” Davis said.