Gig Harbor police arrest 23 people for theft, robbery, in sting to curb shoplifting

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Gig Harbor police announced Monday that officers arrested 23 people and recovered $3,500 worth of merchandise during a two-day theft emphasis patrol.

The operation took place on Thursday and Friday. Gig Harbor officers carried out the patrol with plain clothes detectives, various loss prevention personnel at local businesses, and an investigator for the Peninsula Detachment of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Nathan Betts.

Gig Harbor Police Chief Kelly Busey told The News Tribune that 21 people were arrested on suspicion of theft in the third degree, and two were arrested on suspicion of robbery in the second degree. One of the two individuals arrested on suspicion of felony robbery is in the Pierce County Jail.

“We wanted to send a strong message that in this environment, we wanted to do what we could to protect our businesses,” Busey said to The News Tribune in a phone interview. “This operation will be repeated in the future.”

The operation was spread out over the city, Busey said. He said five or six officers worked with loss prevention personnel at multiple businesses to arrest the 23 individuals. Busey said there wasn’t a pattern to items stolen, but he noted that the crimes were frequently committed at grocery and hardware stores.

Among the 23 arrested, four were juvenile females, five were women and 14 were men.

Theft in the third degree is characterized as petty theft like shoplifting, porch pirating and any other form of theft under $750, according to Sgt. Darren Moss, spokesperson with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. Robbery in the second degree is a class B felony and is defined as using force or fear to take something from someone. To meet the requirements for robbery in the first degree, a person would have to use a deadly weapon, display a deadly weapon or inflict bodily injury.