Sheriff makes change for shoplifters to go straight to jail

KALAMAZOO (AP) — The Kalamazoo County sheriff is making a change that allows police officers to take arrested shoplifting suspects straight to jail, rather than issue them citations.

The switch made by Sheriff Richard Fuller gives police officers from all jurisdictions in the county the option to lodge retail fraud suspects in the Kalamazoo County Jail.

That’s regardless of how much the shoplifted goods are worth or whether it’s the suspect’s first offense.

Arrested suspects could be booked into jail and would remain behind bars until the next court day for their arraignment, unless they’re able to post bond.

Officers were directed in the past to give suspects appearance citations and release them if the value of stolen goods was low and they had no prior arrests, The Kalamazoo Gazette reports.

Fuller said in a news release that the past directive was due to chronic overcrowding at the jail. Renovations and an addition to the jail in 2013 alleviated that problem, he said.

The change is aimed at reducing retail fraud and recidivism, Fuller said. Retail fraud cases have risen in the county from 514 in 2011 to 776 in 2014.

Fuller said sheriff’s office officials believe the rise in shoplifting cases was due in part to people not being taken to jail. He said he thinks changing that will reduce recidivism by giving an immediate consequence, and will lower the number of retail fraud cases.

“I would bet that next year when I produce the yearly stats for the year 2016 we’ll see a fairly decent reduction,” Fuller said. “That’s our intent.”

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