PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Local businesses have seen a significant spike in shoplifting cases in the past few months, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.

WCSO Sgt. Cliff Lascink told KOIN 6 News that in August and September, local stores saw the highest rates of retail theft since 2018. In response, stores and police agencies are working together to deter shoplifting crimes.

“It’s something that’s becoming more prolific in 2022, for sure,” Lascink said. 

On Dec. 9, the WCSO conducted a sting operation at a Beaverton Target. Six suspects were arrested, and approximately $2,600 worth of stolen items were recovered during the “retail theft blitz,” which involved three detectives and seven sheriff’s deputies, the WCSO said.

On Sunday, the Oregon City Police Department said they also finished a shoplifting operation at Home Depot that led to the arrest of 4 people: Katrina Bremer, 44, of Estacada; David Gordon, 39, and Brandy Clark, 32, of Washington state; and Luis Ruiz, 33, of Troutdale.

Bremer faces an out-of-state burglary warrant, officials said. The others face theft charges, plus Ruiz has an outstanding warrant.

Authorities with OCPD said they worked with Milwaukie police on this operation and all the merchandise was returned to the store.

Lascink said that high-priced electronics and easy-to-conceal items like Legos, playing cards and clothes are common targets for shoplifters. While some use more sophisticated methods to remove anti-theft devices, he said, others simply place items in shopping carts and walk out.

“Legos are a big, key item,” he said. “People can just grab those and put them in their cart and walk out. That’s a big one, as well as the trading cards like Pokémon or Magic the Gathering, just because those are easy to conceal.”

Shoplifting rates typically double during the holidays, Lascink said. The holiday spike has been especially noticeable at the Beaverton Target, where the WCSO reportedly receives a service call for shoplifting every other day.

“This is something that is becoming more and more prevalent,” he said. “There are a lot of partnerships happening between local businesses and law enforcement, as well as prosecutors trying to target this stuff because this is becoming more prolific.”