CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. -- Once every six weeks, officers from various Western New York police agencies join with officials from retail stores across the region to discuss a growing problem -- organized retail crime.
The National Retail Federation says the organized theft costs retailers $30 billion a year.
"They get up every day," said Detective Captain Greg Savage with the Erie County Sheriff's Office. "They have their cup of coffee. They get in the car. Usually it's more than one person. Sometimes they distract employees."
Cheektowaga Police Department Crime Analyst Don Szumigala heads up the local task force, which includes representatives from Buffalo Police, Lancaster Police, Amherst Police, Hamburg Police and others.
"We put up their pictures," Officer Szumigala said, referring to those involved in organized retail theft. "We remind everybody who is active right now, what areas they're hitting, what they're pursuing."
The task force appears to have had an impact. Szumigala said before its existence, police would "close" about 15% of organized retail theft cases. Now, that closure rate is up to about 75%.
2 On Your Side takes an in-depth look at this issue. You can see more in the video player.