Fairfax Co. Police report shoplifting has increased 41.7% compared to last year

July 5, 2023


By Nick Minock

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (7News) — Shoplifting in Fairfax County is on the rise.

According to data from Fairfax County Police Department, there have been more than 1,000 cases of shoplifting so far this year compared to this time last year in Fairfax County. That is a 41.7 percent increase.

Everything from shopping malls to grocery stores are feeling the impact.

As shared on Facebook, a video posted by a Fairfax County resident shows at least four people storming down an escalator at Tysons Galleria allegedly stealing purses. The Fairfax County Police Department says the suspects allegedly stole items worth $150,000 and fled the store at 11:00 am on May 22nd. The case is still under investigation.

Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity says customers are feeling the impact of shoplifting too.

“I think the bigger impact is the cost to your groceries,” said Herrity. “You are talking about millions of dollars being stolen. And the stores have to recover that cost and that goes right into the cost of merchandise. You are going to have some places where the store closes down.”

Giant Food stores are taking action across Northern Virginia to address a spike in thefts, including, closing certain entrances and exits, limiting items at self-checkout to 20 items or less, reducing store hours an hour earlier, and training employees on de-escalation.

Fairfax shoplifting stats. (Fairfax County Police Department)

A Giant Food spokesperson sent 7News the following statements:

“Due to the significant increase in crime and theft across our market area, we are implementing some new processes to mitigate theft in our stores and prioritize the safety of our customers and associates. We have implemented these changes in many of our stores and will continue to test other theft prevention tactics in other stores. We know that these changes are disruptive for everyone, and we would prefer not to have to put these measures in place. Unfortunately, at this time we are in a position where these steps are necessary.

The safety of our associates and customers is our first priority. We continuously monitor for situations that may jeopardize that and take necessary measures to ensure our stores are safe for everyone. At the same time, we must also operate profitably to continue serving our customers. Giant has served the DMV community since 1936 and we have every intention of continuing to do so. Closing stores is the absolute last thing we want to do, but the increased theft and violence we’re experiencing across our footprint puts every retailer in a position of weighing that option. Therefore, we work diligently to balance the measures we must take to create a safe shopping environment and operate profitability. We recognize the inconvenience some of these measures place on our customers, and we appreciate their continued support and understanding.”

Giant Food stores in Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and the City of Alexandria are taking precautions.

“We are increasing patrols just about everywhere because again we are trying to look at all facets and tried to make everyone feel safe, secure, and let them know where there,” said Marcel Bassett, the Alexandria City Police Department Public Information Officer. “As you can see we have police across the street from where we are now. We do have off-duty details at different shopping plazas throughout the city. We are working with city senior leadership and things of that nature to see other ways we can approach from a holistic or social standpoint. So, there are many things in the works.”

Alexandria City Police are trying to keep up with the thefts.

“We are making arrests,” said Bassett. “I think we can do better with it having full cooperation from all parties involved. So, we can get through prosecutions. That’s one of the biggest things – a deterrent would actually be convictions.”

Herrity adds Tysons has been a target for shoplifters in Fairfax County.

“The metro has brought a lot of crime with it,” said Herrity. “I know Loudoun County is expecting the same thing.”

Herrity says thieves need to be held accountable to reverse this shoplifting trend.

“It used to be we had a reputation here you didn’t want to commit crime in Fairfax County,” said Herrity. “Because you got caught and you got punished. And I think being 200 officers down and having a Commonwealth’s Attorney who doesn’t want to prosecute theft up to $1,500 as a felony is having an impact. This is all the whole criminal justice reform without limit.”

On Wednesday morning, 7News asked Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano’s spokesperson what is Descano doing to hold shoplifters accountable for stealing merchandise and what is he doing to address this crime trend. Descano has not responded.

This year, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a bill to toughen penalties for organized retail theft. In Virginia, a person found guilty of stealing more than $5,000 with the intent to sell the retail property for profit faces a Class 3 Felony, which carries a term of imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than 20 years, and a fine of up to $100,000.