SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Spartanburg’s bustling west side has been hit by what police call an “organized theft ring”.
“It’s the same individuals involved in the same crime,” said Spartanburg Police Lieutenant Doug Harwell. “We’ve isolated about 4 or 5 [suspects] and expect that number to grow.”
Lt. Harwell said investigators are not currently seeing this type of crime happen as frequently in other parts of the city.
“We’ve just noticed an uptick in this type of larceny,” said Lt. Harwell. “We’ve had several more involving this group where we can actually identify the group and the method they’re using.”
The individuals have been seen on surveillance cameras stealing from stores in that area over the past week. Police say their stops include Walmart, Old Navy, Lowes; as well as Costco and Sears over at Westgate Mall.
“We’ve seen an uptick in the types of larcenies that we’re encountering at this point,” said Lt. Harwell, adding it’s what police call “push-out” larcenies. “That’s where a suspect would go inside a business, grab a shopping cart and shop normally for just a few minutes, put some very expensive items in the car and just roll the shopping cart completely out the store.”
It’s the type of crime Spartanburg City Councilman Sterling Anderson says he’s concerned to see in District One.
“I’m absolutely shocked,” said Anderson. “I think it’s bad for business. We have the mall and a lot of commercial activity on the west side of Spartanburg.”
Westgate Mall released this statement to 7 News:
We are aware of a rash of shoplifting incidents in the area, including activity at Sears earlier this week. We are working with the Spartanburg Police Department as they continue their investigation into these incidents. We would encourage anyone who sees anything suspicious to contact WestGate Mall security or the Spartanburg Police Department.
Police are hoping the community can help. Investigators say the suspects ran from officers in a black Saturn Thursday, adding even more of a safety issue.
“That increases the likelihood that they may be more likely to cause danger or injure innocent people in the process,” said Lt. Harwell.
Anyone with information can anonymously contact Spartanburg Police Investigator Eric Gallman at (864)-415-2532, the tip line at 864-573-0000, or private message the department’s Facebook Page. The case number is C17050265.