Federal officials to assist Poughkeepsie police in crackdown on constant thefts in area
The federal government is helping the Town of Poughkeepsie bring in three new officers to focus on the constant theft that officials say is getting out of control.
The police department is starting a unit with the officers meant solely for "chronic crime issues," namely theft from local businesses.
Police said "big box" stores are being hit the most.
"Do what you gotta do, you know?" shopper Bruce Barnes said.
Barnes has noticed on shopping trips in recent years that certain items are caged or behind glass - he has to ask a store associate to unlock them for him.
Employees from several stores said they especially have problems with thefts of tools, cold and flu medicine and shrimp.
"It's getting out of hand if you have to put those up there just to keep people from taking and robbing," Barnes said.
Town officials said people should also be concerned about the possibility of higher prices because of the investments the companies mut put into loss prevention.
Rep. Pat Ryan (D - District 18) helped secure a federal grant worth $375,000 to fund the new positions.
"To do that without further burdening the taxpayers of Poughkeepsie is also obviously really, really important," Ryan said during a press conference Thursday at the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department.
Police Chief Joseph Cavaliere said the new officers are going to use cutting-edge techniques to minimize thefts.
They will analyze data, criminal records and maps to find hot spots, hot behaviors and repeat offenders.
"Hopefully this unit will be able to analyze the data, find these hotspots and find solutions ," Cavaliere said, "and whatever extra importance we have to do [sic] and where we need to assign an extra presence."
This was the fourth time the department had applied for a federal grant through the Community Oriented Policing Program (COPS), and the first time it actually won the grant.
Police said larger chain stores, such as supermarket Stop & Shop, have seen high rates of theft and therefore will receive extra attention from the three new officers.
"Like other retailers, Stop & Shop has seen increased instances of theft in recent months," a company spokesperson said in an email. "We are continuously evaluating our approach to ensure we are creating a positive shopping experience for our loyal customers, while also protecting our product, customers, and associates. We are thankful to the Poughkeepsie Police Department for their support in trying to deter theft within our stores."