Monroe Police investigate rising number of thefts at outlet mall

MONROE, OH (FOX19) - As the holiday season quickly approaches, the Monroe Police Department is reporting an increase in thefts at the Cincinnati Premium Outlets over the last few weeks.

Police say large groups from outside the Cincinnati area are stealing thousands of dollars worth of clothes and shoes.

"We haven't seen large scale like this since the mall opened up originally," said Lt. Brian Curlis with Monroe Police.

Already this month, police have responded to 10 theft related calls at the mall. And these thieves know what they're doing.

"Distraction techniques, also some covert stuff they're doing just to get items at the outlet store," said Curlis.

Police say the thieves are using a pry-tool to take off security sensors on items, but these criminals are causing more problems than just shoplifting.

"What has got our attention is that we almost had an officer hurt out there trying to stop someone from stealing also," said Curlis.

Police are still on the lookout for Robert Miller of Cincinnati, who stole from Wilson Leather and then fled, striking a security officer with his vehicle.

Police say these criminals need to be stopped, but a new Ohio law change makes it harder to keep these thieves locked up.

"Now they can steal up to $1000 worth of items and virtually get no jail time," said Curlis.

Under the old law, a person who stole more than $500 worth of merchandise would be charged with a felony, but in October, that amount moved to $1000 for a felony charge.

"It is a little frustrating sometimes when the laws change like this. We wish it would still be $500 but now that it's $1000 we'll work with it. These people are going to get caught," said Curlis.

To catch the thieves, police are now using data to help determine when shoplifters are most likely to hit. Also this holiday season, Monroe police will have more of presence at the mall.

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