Razor blade thefts part of growing issue

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – The theft of small items like razor cartridges are part of big business for criminals. It’s a billion dollar industry, and in the end, you’re footing the bill.

Amherst Police are searching for a man they believe stole $5,000 worth of razor blade cartridges in two days. Orchard Park Police are searching for a woman who stole razor blade refills from three different stores. Both crimes happened within the last two weeks.

Investigators told News 4 thieves like these suspects aren’t just shoplifters looking for a thrill, these are people who steal for a living.

Cheektowaga Police Officer Donald Szumigala said, “Crime is their job; it’s what they do for a living, just like you and me wake up and go to work, they wake up every morning and they go to steal.”

Officer Szumigala is an expert on what is known as “organized retail crime” and is a point person for local police departments and retailers.

He explained, “We all meet together every six weeks. We look at who’s stealing what, where they’re doing it, how they’re doing it and who’s working together.”

These are common stolen items:

  • Razor Blades
  • Tide Detergent
  • Over the Counter Medicine

In many cases it’s a multi-person effort. Thieves known as boosters, often looking for a quick way to get cash for drugs, will steal the items and hand them over to a middle man known as a fence, who can get even more cash by selling the items.

Officer Szumigala said, “What they’ll do with that is sometimes take it down to local stores. They’ll trade it in for 50 cents on the dollar, corner stores and things like that. Other times they might mass ship it out of the area. They’ll get it on a tractor trailer.”

It’s an industry that costs retailers in the United States up to $15 billion a year. That amounts to $35 million a day and it’s a cost that stores often pass on to consumers.

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