RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Alcohol shoplifting, otherwise known as liquor lifting, has been on the rise in Richmond.
The Richmond Police Department and the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority held a briefing on Friday to discuss how this type of crime is being addressed.
Police said liquor lifting makes up more than half of all the city’s total shoplifting reports. There have been 807 total shoplifting reports for 2023 so far, with 420 of them happening at local ABC stores. In nearby Chesterfield County, police say liquor lifting accounts for 20% of all shoplifting crimes reported in the county this year.
A partnership between Richmond Police and Virginia ABC has assigned a detective at stores with high theft rates to catch and punish offenders. As of right now, there have been eight liquor lifting operations to catch offenders at Richmond ABC stores.
One of these operations is at the ABC store located at 6504 Hull Street, which used to see two to three liquor liftings a day. These thefts meant the business lost hundreds of dollars a day, totaling thousands weekly.
Detective Bryan Ferreiras of the Second Precinct has been targeting shoplifters at the Hull Street location. He says at the store, cases have dropped to about twice a week.
“It’s all a team effort here, starts from the very bottom…majority of the time, we catch them in the act, because they become predictable,” Ferreiras said.
Shelby Hines, the store manager of Hull Street store, said liquor liftings used to happen very frequently and became a huge problem for the store to deal with.
“It almost gave you a feeling that something worse could happen because it was so brazen,” Hines said.
Over the past few months, liquor liftings have decreased significantly, both at the Hull Street store, and throughout the greater Richmond area.
Ferrerias added that one of the biggest ways they are working to prevent liquor lifting is by using hotspot curves, which allows officers to go to places in between calls to make police presence known.
Richmond Police say they have now been able to catch their three biggest liquor lifters. While charges are pending for two of the offenders, the first one has received a felony charge.