Yakima Stores Being Hit Hard by Alcohol Thieves
Thieves are making off with thousands of dollars in alcohol from Yakima store shelves this month. It is a troubling trend that developed after the new alcohol law took effect. Our news partner KIMA Action News reports Wray's Marketfresh owner Chris Brown says he is losing at least $500 a week. It turns out, he is not alone. Yakima police say thieves recently tried to get away with an entire shopping cart with liquor at WalMart.
"Would you say this is a growing problem in Yakima?" KIMA asked Yakima police.
"It's a growing problem in Yakima because alcohol is now in every retail outlet, supermarket in town," said Yakima Police Department Captain Rod Light.
Some stores say they are moving away from plastic bottles altogether because they tend to be lighter than the glass bottles; if you drop it, it does not break; it makes less noise and it tends to fit in tight places like coats and purses.
Liquor stores we spoke with say they have not experienced any upticks in thefts but have heard the stories.
"One store in particular actually told me that they have had so much theft they could have actually hired someone at minimum wage to sit there and look at their liquor aisle morning to night," said Union Gap Liquor Store employee Debby Morford.
Police are not sure whether stolen alcohol is being resold cheaper on the black market to avoid the taxes, but they say it is possible
For now, Chris Brown is doing what he can to make sure any liquor that leaves his store is paid for. Brown said while alcohol thefts have increased, the number of minors stealing has not. Some stores are considering encasing all of their liquor much like cigarettes sold in stores.
The Liquor Control Board is exploring law changes that would require all alcohol thefts to be reported to the state. That, after requests from leaders in law enforcement who say there is no real way to get an idea of just how big the problem is.