New undercover operation leads to 50 arrests in 3 days at retail - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New undercover operation leads to 50 arrests in 3 days at retail outlets across Louisville

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Undercover officers wearing everyday clothes and dressed in ways you'd never expect walked among shoppers at Mall St. Matthews on Friday.

It's a new operation that creates a blanket of security, networked together in a law enforcement app. When an undercover officer spots a shoplifter, there's no need to call dispatch. They ping an officer outside, who's waiting for the suspect.

"It cuts down on the lag time," said St. Matthews Sgt. Jeff Hancock.

Along with LMPD officers and loss prevention officers from across the state, St. Matthews Police officers are using the system to put a major dent in shoplifting at several spots around the area.

Shops in Mall St. Matthews, Shelbyville Road Plaza and Springhurst Shopping Center and shoplifting hot spots like Target, Walmart and Kroger have gone cold.

Police made more than 50 arrests in three days during the "retail theft initiative" and in some instances uncovered more than just shoplifting. 

"We've recovered one stolen auto and seized $12,000 in narcotics." St. Matthews Police Chief Barry Wilkerson said.   

WDRB rode along Friday and witnessed one of those surprise busts. 

A man only going by "Little G" caught officers' attention with a station wagon parked crooked in a handicap spot. Officers said he didn't have a limp when he walked into the mall. They ran the plate and found it had been reported stolen earlier this week. Undercover officers tracked Little G communicating with the app and made an arrest when he returned to the stolen car. Officers removed a baggie of suspected heroin from his pocket. 

WDRB: "What about the heroin in your pocket?'

Suspect: "It ain't even real. I don't know what heroin they talking about, bruh. These police are crooked..."

WDRB: "The baggie is not real?"

Suspect: "I don't know nothing about nothing."

WDRB: "You're on video. It came out of your pocket."

Suspect: "Anything can be anything, bruh."

As Little G's arrest played out, a shoplifting arrest occurred at the Nike store and Babies"R"Us across the street, as well as another earlier in the day at the Kroger on Hubbards Lane, where a woman stole meat and other food items.

"Our plan moving forward is to continue these types of details," Hancock said.

The message to shoplifter is: Don't try to cash in on a five-finger discount this holiday season. 

Police asked WDRB not to reveal the name of the app they're now using to network security forces. 

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