SPRINGFIELD, Va. (DC News Now) — Fairfax County is reporting a sharp decline in retail thefts, attributing the change to a summer crime initiative it participated in during June.
Part of the initiative was to increase patrols at certain locations across the county, based on retail theft data, for the month.
According to data shared by the Fairfax County Police Department, there was an average of 619 shoplifting incidents a month from January to May. In June, that number fell to 573.
“We saw some good reductions in overall retail theft in the month of June because of our enhanced commitment,” said Chief Kevin Davis. “But we’ve got a long way to go.”
On July 1, more than $37,000 worth of items — ranging from perfumes to jeans and backpacks — were allegedly stolen by two men.
The department said the items were found in the car and the hotel room of two men, who were arrested at Springfield Town Center.
The two suspects could be among the first to face punishment under a new law, which went into effect on July 1 in the Commonwealth. The new law made “organized retail theft” a Class 3 felony — punishable by up to 20 years behind bars.
The punishment could be handed down to two or more people who conspire to steal more than $5,000 of retail items in a 90-day period.
However, that law was negotiated in the General Assembly, as some advocated pushed for a higher dollar-threshold.
“We worked pretty hard on that to at least get the dollar threshold raised,” said Brad Haywood, the Chief Public Defender in Arlington and Falls Church. He also leads the organization Justice Forward Virginia.
“[If] they’re stealing less than $5,000 in three months, is that really something that we need some brand new statute to deal with?” he said.
The initial bill had the dollar threshold at $1,000.