Lowe's located in Keizer Station (KEIZERTIMES/Joey Cappelletti).
Last week, two men piled thousands of dollars worth of electrical wire into their Lowe’s shopping carts before strolling past a powerless security guard and driving off with the stolen merchandise.
The crime took place during broad daylight in one of Keizer’s busiest parking lots.
A video of the incident, taken by another customer on Aug. 25, has received close to 25,000 views on Facebook and hundreds of angry comments.
“It was so blatant, that’s what riled me up,” said Keizer resident Andrew Sullivan, who filmed the incident. “They were just strolling through the parking lot, just riding the carts."
The stolen merchandise according to Sullivan, who is an electrician, is Romex wire and can cost as much as $450 for a single spool.
Copeland said the men would presumably strip the Romex wire and sell the valuable copper found inside. With two shopping carts full of wire, Copeland and Sullivan both estimate the value of stolen goods to be at least a couple thousand of dollars.
One of the shoplifters loads a $450 spool of Romex wire into a car. (VIDEO STILL courtesy of Andrew Sullivan.)
The overt crime is part of a larger issue of increased shoplifting during COVID, according to Keizer Police Lieutenant Andrew Copeland.
“Once you’ve stolen from Lowe's once and know they can't stop you, there’s no real consequence,” Copeland said. “Second thing is, these people know they can’t go to jail."
In an effort to reduce their population during COVID, many jails in Oregon aren’t taking offenders of certain crimes — theft being one of them.
Copeland said in a case like this, the men would most likely be fined, cited and then released.
In Sullivan's video, as the men are leaving, a Lowe’s security guard repeatedly asks them to show her their receipt.
When a second security guard attempts to intervene as the men leave the store, the first guard stops the second and says, “Hey don’t do this. It’s not worth it.”
Lowe’s did not respond to questions about their policy on employees stopping shoplifters.
“I think these guys have done it before because they seemed to have a good system. One guy with the car and two guys with the carts. They knew no one was going to touch them,” said Sullivan.
Copeland said employees at larger companies such as Lowe’s usually aren’t allowed to physically stop shoplifters.
According to Copeland, the police department didn’t receive a call from Lowe’s to report the crime until the next afternoon. While many on Facebook questioned if Keizer Police would even do anything, Copeland said the police first need a victim to investigate a crime.
“In order for us to arrest someone, we have to have a victim. If Lowe’s chooses not to report it, we can’t do anything,” Copeland said.
Lowe’s eventually called the following day and there is now an active investigation.
Copeland said that Sullivan did the right thing by not physically confronting the thieves and that his video has helped police identify tattoos on the suspect and registration tags on their car.
According to Keizer Police Lieutenant Trevor Wenning, the department has not identified the suspects at this time.
News tip? Contact reporter Joey Cappelletti at [email protected] or 616-610-3093.