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Shoplifters steal from all of us

A young entrepreneur in a small Connecticut town during the 1970s turned her design and sewing skills into a successful women’s boutique. She poured her heart and soul into the business, often staying up late into the night sewing clothes that flew off the racks almost a quickly as she created them.

The boutique owner shared her love for fashion with the community and was rewarded with a booming business. She worked hard to please her customers, so it came as a shock to discover she was being robbed blind by shoplifters. She took it personally, especially since some of the thieves were people she knew and trusted.

In today’s retail world, it’s even tougher for local retailers to make a profit thanks to competition from large retail chains and online shopping. Shoplifting, whether it’s committed by employees or customers, cuts into their ability to stay in business and serve the community.

Maui’s surviving mom and pop businesses help define the character of our island. Both locals and visitors are charmed by the personality and merchandise found at locally operated shops in towns like Paia, Makawao, Wailuku and Lahaina.

The problems that shoplifting present are best addressed through public/private partnerships between law enforcement, criminal justice and community retailers, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention.

Some years ago, The Maui News advertising department worked with the Maui Police Department to create a series of ads warning thieves of the consequences of shoplifting. We even had some of our staff handcuffed in the display ads to hammer home the point.

Shoplifting results in higher prices consumers must pay to cover the losses from theft, increased security costs for retailers and added strain on our criminal justice system.

Shoplifters steal from all of us.