Crime schemes uncovered

HARLINGEN — Local department stores are encouraged to be vigilant when it comes to possible theft in their stores.

During the past month, the Harlingen Police Department’s Crime Fusion Center has discovered a pattern of thefts occurring at local department, clothing, and home improvement stores.

According to information provided by the affected stores to the police department, the suspect selects items without paying.

He or she then goes to the customer service desk and returns the items, claiming they had been paid for but the receipt had been lost.

The policy at some local stores is to allow people to return items without receipts and receive store credit, police said.

Depending on the affected store’s procedure, the service desk then issues the suspect a gift card for a specific amount of the item.

The suspect then uses the gift card to make another purchase, usually the next day or so.

In other reports, the suspects search the outside garbage cans for receipts or locate them in the parking lot.

When a receipt is found, the suspect walks into the store, selects an item listed on the receipt, and returns the item for store credit, as if the item had been legitimately paid for, police said.

“The police department is currently investigating several theft cases throughout the city, where the above tactics have been used. The thefts are being committed by individuals, teams, and by both male and female suspects,” police said.

Police said these types of thefts also are happening in other Valley cities.

HPD encourages local businesses to report these types of incidents, as well as any other crime activities occurring at their businesses.