To report an active retail theft, call dispatch at:

Columbus Police Department in cooperation with several local retailers have joined together in a concentrated effort to combat the increasing problem of a variety of crimes against our community. Shoplifting, theft, credit card fraud, counterfeit checks, fraudulent returns, identity theft, till taps, short change, ticket switching, counterfeit money, gift card fraud, and any other criminal activity that results in a financial loss to retailers or to their customers may fall into the category of retail theft.

Statistically, Columbus ranks above the national and state averages for property crimes. Columbus Police Department recognized that a more aggressive effort was necessary to address this problem. Approximately three years ago, a detective was assigned to the full time position of Retail Theft Coordinator to work with the retailers and loss prevention personnel. The goal of this partnership is to identify, apprehend and prosecute offenders. This cooperative effort is resulting in the apprehension of an increasing number of suspected thieves.

Retailers are employing specially trained personnel and utilizing the latest technologies to collect intelligence and gather evidence to assist in the investigation of such crimes. Digital systems enable personnel to follow and record suspects through out the building. The system allows the tracking of fraudulent activity at each individual point of sale. Surveillance video is synchronized to each transaction.

Retail Theft is an ever-increasing problem that diminishes local retailers profits and raises prices for local consumers. For every item that is stolen from retail stores, ten of the same items have to be sold to make up for the loss. For retailers to see a profit, legitimate customers must pay a higher price.

Retailers are seeing several types of shoplifters. They fall into the categories of professional, amateur, and opportunist shoplifters. A professional shoplifter is someone who works within an organization. They recruit and train others to join in their ranks. These professionals often steal or “boost” a high quantity of merchandise that includes higher price clothing, jewelry, electronics, CD’s and DVD movies. After leaving the building with the merchandise, they go to pawn shops, flea markets or fences to dispose of the merchandise. Amateurs often steal for personal use or to trade for illegal narcotics. Opportunist may steal on impulse or a dare.

These increased efforts have shown that many of these shoplifters are involved in other criminal activity within the community, most commonly drug activity. The investigation and prosecution of some of these suspects have resulted in arrests for other illegal activities. During many of these theft investigations, Methamphetimine Labs have been located and suspects arrested.

Retail Theft Meetings
Any retailer or their designated representative and law enforcement

Meeting to share intelligence and identify chronic suspects


Alternate sites (Columbus Police Dept. and retail locations)

To share information and develop strategies to aggressively pursue and successfully prosecute these offenders.

Retail Theft Reporting:
Columbus Police Department – 812-376-1689
Bartholomew County Prosecutor – 812-379-1670

Information on Retail Theft Meetings or related matters call:
Detective Bill Zeigler at 812-376-2627.