Police think liquor thefts are rising, ask for rule change

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

KREM.com

Posted on December 6, 2012 at 3:14 PM

TUMWATER, Wash. - It got a lot more convenient to buy booze in Washington this year. Police think it's become easier to steal too.

Investigators have heard of rising cases of liquor shoplifting since sales became privatized in June, but the state does not require retailers report when alcohol is stolen.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) wants to change that.

"We would like to get the data and see if there's a problem," said Mitch Barker, Executive Director of WASPC.

Wednesday Barker's association asked the Liquor Control Board to require reporting from retailers to better document the crime.

Barker said that could help police and business owners prevent the thefts.

The Liquor Control Board is willing to look at changing the rules because board members fear much of the stolen liquor is ending up being sold to minors.

"If it's enacted, it will require us to significantly add to the paperwork burden," said Darren Smith, owner of Tumwater Liquor and Wine.

Smith figures the cost to his business to report inventory to the state would be about $400 and said he does not have a problem with shoplifting.

He has heard the thieves are targeting larger grocery retailers where there's less supervision of customers.

Liquor Control Board members said Wednesday they would not want to change any rules if it became a burden on retailers.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Darren Smith.

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