WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) — Retail theft costs businesses billions of dollars every year.

In Wake Forest, police have identified two people they said stole items from a Lowe’s Home Improvement store. Police shared photos of one of those men walking out of the store with a shopping cart full of laundry detergent.

Officials also shared photos from the nearby Publix where other thieves are wanted for questioning in relation to $1,500 worth of facial cream that was stolen.

“We take it seriously and we believe crime deterrence, regardless of the the value of the items that are being stolen, crime deterrence is important, but also solving crime is important,” said Bill Crabtree, a police spokesperson.

Police are turning more and more to the public for help through social media. Crabtree said posting photos online can help them identify a suspect in minutes. He said cooperation from the public is critical in solving crimes.

“It’s just important that we hold these people accountable and so that’s a huge step in deterring this kind of crime,” Crabtree said. “We see a lot of the people committing it over and over again. They’re repeat offenders.”

Retail theft is a problem nationwide. A new survey from the National Retail Federation said businesses lost $112 billion to theft last year, up from $93.9 billion in 2021.

“It’s not really for personal gain or consumption, it’s for financial gain,” said David Johnston, Vice President of Asset Protection and Retail Operations for NRF.

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Johnston says it’s prompting some businesses to lock up their shelves, impacting the shopper experience.



“Customers who walk into a location and have to wait a long period-of-time for employee support, may not go back to that location. They may look at either shopping somewhere else or even shopping online,” he said.

In Wake Forest, Crabtree said theft isn’t especially worse now than in the past but police do have more tools to find those responsible.

“If you’re going to shoplift in Wake Forest, be prepared to see your picture plastered all over social media. It’s not candid camera, but it is effective,” he said.