LIBERTY, Mo. — Shoppers in Liberty, Missouri are already noticing some additional police officers near big stores and they probably aren’t noticing even more in unmarked vehicles nearby.

Liberty Police have been increasing staffing since seeing more organized shoplifting starting over the summer and continuing into the holiday shopping season.

“You’d see groups of people walk into one retail establishment and load up baskets full of clothing or merchandise and simply just walk out of the store and drive away,” said Liberty Police Lieutenant Nathan Mulch. “It’s creating losses of thousands of dollars at a time when they come in.”

FOX4 found a marked police SUV watching retail spots Tuesday, but Liberty is hardly alone.

Retail giant Target just blamed organized shoplifting for causing them to lose $400 million in profits from one year to the next.

A few miles away in Overland Park, shoplifters in Oak Park Mall prompted the local police department to create the Organized Retail Crime Unit a few years ago. Detective Byron Pierce is at Oak Park Mall everyday helping cut down the time it takes to respond to shoplifting reports and other calls inside the mall.

The holiday season only exacerbates the problem.

“When there’s more people, there’s more calls for service,” Pierce said.

A soon-to-be-open office in the mall will help boost his team’s visibility even more, especially since Oak Park Mall’s proximity to large highways makes it a tempting spot for shoplifters.

“I hate to say this, but it does become a magnet for everyone who engages in that type of crime,” Pierce said.

In Liberty, Mulch says the bigger patrols already paid off on Black Friday when he’s pretty sure his officers scared off would-be shoplifters.

“We saw some people acting suspicious, we made our presence known, those people decided to leave and they didn’t buy anything,” Mulch said.

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