Watch CBS News

San Joaquin County program aimed at curbing retail theft gains momentum. Here's how it works

California county's program aimed at curbing retail theft gains momentum
California county's program aimed at curbing retail theft gains momentum 02:49

STOCKTON – A program in San Joaquin County is gaining momentum and you might see some interesting billboards pop up this summer letting retail thieves know they will be prosecuted.

"On the day that we opened we got robbed and every month following after that there's a break-in," said the co-owner of Drycleaners Oliver Opus.

Drycleaners is a retail business in Stockton. They shared an entire Google Drive folder with CBS News Sacramento full of footage of theft and break-ins. They say it's something they constantly deal with.

"Time is such a crucial part in solving these or finding out who did this," Opus said.

San Joaquin County's Stockton Taking Action Against Retail Theft program (STAART), could help with that. 

Spearheaded by the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, the program recently received more than $1 million from the county to implement four components to curb retail theft: workshops for merchants, camera systems for small businesses, an app for anyone to download and share tips or footage that goes straight to law enforcement and the district attorney, and billboards warning thieves against stealing.

"We're doing billboards all over San Joaquin County saying, 'If you steal in San Joaquin County, we prosecute,'" said chief policy officer with the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, Frank Ferral.

The app and billboards are still in development but the chamber of commerce says they should be ready come mid-July. 

It's the app that will do the heavy lifting, giving the community the ability to be another set of eyes and get the information expedited to where it needs to go - the district attorney's office.

"It gets straight to the person we need it to get to," said Opus, "I think it's a great solution to a problem that is affecting all of the businesses out here."

"I mean video is the best you can do, we want people to know eyes are watching you," said Ferral.

The Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce is the first in the state to partner with the DA for a program like this. They'll be hitting the road soon to share the model with other chambers.

"These small businesses are the heartbeat of our community so we want to do everything we can to help them thrive not just survive," said Ferral.

STAART is only a two-year program for now until they see how it's all going to play out, but they say they're hoping they might not even need it after two years if it's successful. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.