FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Shoplifters caught, confronted, and then turning the tables on authorities. Fresno Police said they are seeing an increase in violent shoplifting incidents, raising serious concerns for businesses in the Central Valley.
This is just one in a string of recent incidents-- a shoplifting confrontation at a Target store where security guards backed off because one of the suspects flashed a gun. Now experts say more local stores are hiring armed security guards for protection.
In the past few weeks, there have been three different cases of shoplifters getting confronted and pulling out weapons. Many of these brazen crimes happening on camera in the middle of the day and employees can't do much to stop it. Police Science Institute instructor Todd Dearmore can teach anyone to fire a gun. But lately, he's more concerned about legal protection, in an age where criminals aren't afraid of consequences. "There's more to it than just carrying it on your hip you need to know the law for each individual action you take. and proper technique," said Dearmore.
He said the need for this knowledge, is more important than ever. Security officer classes in particular, have tripled in size over the past six months. "There's not enough employees to fill the man hours that's demanded on securities," said Dearmore.
It's crimes, like this one at target on Shaw and Marks -- where criminals are using deadly weapons to take simple items like pillows. "A lot of times they are low dollar items-- and it turns into a crime of violence and these folks are going to face much more serious consequences," said Fresno Police Sergeant Michael Landon.
Police said at the Fresno and Shaw CVS, a suspect pulled out a knife when employees approached him for stealing shampoo. And a fight broke out at JC Penney last month when employees confronted several shoplifters. At PSI, using a gun is a last resort. "There's times when people will try to commit bodily injury to either the officer or other people and at that point they can engage," said Dearmore.
Security officers can make private citizens arrests and use reasonable force to detain someone. But if a life isn't in immediate danger, these employees can't use a gun, without legal consequences. Calling law enforcement is the best option-- but many times the criminals get away.
All the suspects in the three recent shoplifting cases still haven't been arrested. If you know anything about the criminals you're urged to call police.