A local grocery store has reached its breaking point on frequent shoplifting during lunch hours. Since the first of November the police have been called on three separate days to detain students from Park City High School who have been accused of stealing food.
The Market at Park City Store Manager Rush Hotchkiss told KPCW the market has tried for several years to address shoplifting by students during lunch, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We’ve put up signs telling people they had to pay for the food before they eat it. We tried making our presence known that we're watching people. That didn't work. We've caught some where we tried to explain to them that they are on camera and that they're being watched and that we’re calling the police, and over the past several weeks we started calling the police because it's gotten so out of hand.”
Hotchkiss says some kids eat their food in the deli area and try to leave without paying for it. Others hide food and try to walk out.
“We know the points where they're trying to get out of the store without paying, so we try to curb them from doing so. So, they know that they're being watched, and that works for the most part, but some of these kids have done it so frequently that they feel like they can do it continuously, and that's why we started calling the police. It just keeps happening over and over again. They put it in their pockets, down their pants, in their shirts, in their backpacks, and it looks like a coordinated effort.”
Hotchkiss says the Park City Police Department is involved and the school district has been notified. He thinks students should be reminded of the economic impact to the store and that the theft affects employee wages and the price of groceries.
“We’re not a corporate store—we’re just one grocery store owned by one person, and the shrink that comes out of this store affects all the employees in the store and the future of the store. It’s just that we provide a lot of things throughout the year, as far as donations and stuff like that. You want everybody to feel that community spirit where they're stealing from one grocery store, but this grocery store is helping with donations and stuff like that throughout the year like that stuff that they need to be aware of.”
Park City Police Department Information Officer Phil Kirk says three shoplifting cases that allegedly occurred on Nov. 1, 4 and 12 have been referred to the Park City Attorney’s office. He says Park City High School Resource Officer Trent Jarmin has alerted school administration.
Because they’re high school students, I think he’s primarily contacted the administration there and let them know and like I said they're working out something to kind of educate students on an appropriate way to handle the situation to avoid appearance at least of theft and that this is a problem. You know they want to be good neighbors and they don't want to jeopardize their ability to take lunch off campus.”
District Communications Director Melinda Colton told KPCW that High School Principal Roger Arbabi has just learned of the allegations and has nothing to add.