CVS and Other Merchants in NYC Turn to Dogs to Stop Shoplifters

Dogs are a part of so many aspects of our lives, including taking on jobs once performed by humans. Now, in New York City, businesses like CVS are starting to think outside the box when it comes to shoplifting deterrents. Shoplifting has become a major issue across the country for many years now, reportedly costing U.S. retailers an estimated $94.5 billion last year.

An initiative launched in the heart of the Big Apple in February saw CVS, located at Eighth Avenue and West 34th Street in the heart of the shopping district, take proactive steps to curb the problem by contracting with Stapleton Security Services.

“We’ve had a lot of complaints. A lot of shoplifting occurs in drugstores,” explained Kevin Ward, vice president of security for the 34th Street Partnership, the trade group serving the neighborhood. “We’re trying to address the issue.”

Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

Working Dogs

The program — which the group says costs in the “low-five figures monthly” — was a necessary investment, according to Ward. “We decided to have a very visible deterrent,” he continued. Ward, who is a retired police officer, was once chief of staff to former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

As part of the initiative with Stapleton, three K-9 units and their handlers working in shifts have been posted just inside the entrance to the store as well as outside. While the canines don’t have physical contact with customers and would-be shoplifters, their presence as a deterrent seems to be working.

Over a five-day period in February, the three K-9 units purportedly prevented “at least 25 thefts and deterred others,” according to the trade group. “It’s effective so far,” Ward stated. “We’ve had a couple of people who were known shoplifters who saw the dog and walked out without stealing anything.” The doggos on patrol there are Drako, a Czechoslovakian shepherd, Emirs, a Belgian Malinois, and Del, a German shepherd.

German shepherd
Photo: Pixabay/Gribouillle

K-9 Crime Stoppers

One of the many problems with retail theft is that the losses are passed on to paying customers in the form of rising prices. In addition to security guards and dogs, a lot of items that were once found on store shelves are now kept under lock and key requiring staff to retrieve and take to the register. Alcohol, personal care items, and pregnancy tests are common targets for thieves.

Perhaps, now that humankind’s best friends are on the job in NYC, more businesses around the country will follow suit, reducing costs and ultimately lowering prices for all. We can always hope, can’t we?

People, Pets & Planet

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