Retailers prohibiting backpacks, oversized bags to prevent shoplifting

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It’s not uncommon to find lockers at a gym or in a school, but what about at the grocery store?

That’s what many retailers across the state are turning to prevent shoplifting.

It’s the latest step many companies are taking to combat thieves.

It started with stores locking up spam, corned beef and even macadamia nuts.

Now there’s a sign hanging at the entrance of Walmart in Hilo stating backpacks and oversized are no longer allowed in the store. The sign goes on to say lockers are being provided for customers to secure their belongings.

Similar signs are posted on storefronts on Oahu too.

“People are stuffing merchandise in there and then grabbing them and running out the store with it,” said Tina Yamaki, with Retail Merchants of Hawaii.

Yamaki said it’s a problem happening across the state.

“It’s not like before where you see the thieves coming in because they need a can of spam to feed their family. They’re making money off of this. They consider this their job. Everyday they’re going out and hitting stores,” Yamaki said.

City Mill is one store that already asks customers to hand over any large bags or backpacks when they walk in.

A store employee told KHON2 customers are given a numbered badge in exchange for their bag. 

We’re told customers can refuse but they might be asked to open their bag before leaving the store.

We also called Don Quijote and employee there told us they have a similar bag-check policy.

“It’s unfortunate we have to start taking measures to combat this situation,” Yamaki said. “The thieves right now they’re also getting more aggressive. Before when they used to steal things, they used to just drop the merchandise and just try and get away. Now they’re fighting back and that’s a little scary.

Yamaki said the crime eventually effects your wallet.

“It’s a loss for the store so stores have to recover that somehow so that’s when you start seeing higher increase in prices. Ultimately it’s the consumer who pays for all of this stuff,” she said.

We reached out to Walmart to see if lockers will be implemented at any other stores across the state.

We’ll let you know what they say.

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