JACKSON – The Jackson Police Department has charged four individuals with organized retail theft enterprise shoplifting; shoplifting; obstruction of the administration of the law; and hindering apprehension following an investigation into shoplifting activities at the Jackson Premium Outlets, Route 537.
According to police, during the past two months, stores at the Jackson Premium Outlets were a target for professional shoplifting rings.
In response to the shoplifting activity, the police department set up daily proactive details consisting of plainclothes patrol officers and members of the Special Enforcement Unit (SEU) in an attempt to prevent thefts and to apprehend the individuals responsible for committing the thefts.
As a result of efforts by multiple jurisdictions and the Jackson Police Department Detective Bureau, with the help of loss prevention specialists, an out-of-state professional shoplifting group was identified.
A shoplifting ring out of Baltimore, Md., was allegedly responsible for numerous acts of shoplifting in several surrounding states. Members of the group were allegedly responsible for almost $60,000 worth of stolen items from stores at the Jackson Premium Outlets, according to police.
On Oct. 29, Police Officer Kevin Scheuerman and Police Officer Michael Collins were assigned to the detail with information that the suspects might be in the area that day.
During the detail, a suspect vehicle was positively identified by the officers. The vehicle was occupied by four people at the time. The officers contacted the SEU and advised that unit of their observations.
Detective Stephen Purtell and Detective Derek Thomason of the SEU, along with Police Officer Michael Cocchiara, responded to the outlet mall with other uniformed personnel.
Units were strategically placed around the area and the suspect vehicle in an attempt to apprehend the individuals and to minimize any attempt of fleeing, according to police.
When the suspects exited the Under Armour store the police officers confronted them, at which time the individuals tried to evade the officers by running away or physically trying to resist the officers’ efforts.
While fleeing from the officers, one female suspect assaulted a citizen who was attempting to assist law enforcement personnel by trying to stop a suspect from getting away.
All four suspects were apprehended and transported to police headquarters for processing.
The suspects’ vehicle was towed from the scene and transported to police headquarters. Police said the SEU would apply for a search warrant to search the vehicle.
Each suspect was charged with organized retail theft enterprise shoplifting; shoplifting; obstruction of the administration of the law; and hindering apprehension. One female suspect was additionally charged with robbery.
All four individuals were initially lodged at the Ocean County Jail, Toms River, according to information provided on Nov. 3 by Sgt. Fred Meabe, who is the Jackson Police Department’s public information officer.