Shoplifter headlines a thing of the past

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ROCHESTER - Just in case anyone was wondering, folks are still shoplifting from department, drug and convenience stores in the city of Rochester.

But Rochester Police, who have made it a yearlong practice to release to the press the names and pictures of those arrested, have decided the effort put into the program doesn't warrant its continuance.

"Police will still put out press releases in cases where the supervising officer deems it appropriate - if the case rises to that level - but we won't be doing press releases on every willful concealment arrest," said Capt. Gary Boudreau, public information officer, on Wednesday.

The program was hoped to discourage would-be shoplifters from stealing stuff, but in truth, it didn't prove much of a deterrent.

Last year Rochester Police recorded 392 arrests, 5 percent more than the 372 in 2013.

While it's not likely the press releases were a factor, Boudreau pointed out that arrests in incidents went up, from 285 in 2013 to 331 last year, a 15 percent increase.

It's probably more likely the arrest rate went up due an aggressive Rochester Facebook Page that publishes surveillance images of suspects committing alleged crimes at various retailers.

In early December Rochester Police stopped the practice of releasing names and pictures of every shoplifter arrested.

"Officers were devoting a lot of time to writing the press releases, uploading suspects' pictures and sending them to news outlets," Boudreau noted. "It was just determined it wasn't worth all the time and effort."

Boudreau added that folks tempted to pocket an unpaid-for item should know they'll still be caught and prosecuted.

"Oh, yeah, we're still making the same numbers of arrests," he said. "It's not like shoplifting just stopped."

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