Harsh economic times prompting uptick in beer thefts in Lufkin

Monday, August 15, 2011 - 3:16pm

Lufkin, TX — Grab-and-go beer thieves are costing Lufkin convenience stores an average of $250 to $400 a week in lost product, according to one local retailer.

Phil Metzinger, Brookshire Brother’s/Polk vice president of specialty beverages and tobacco operations, said hard economic times are causing some to steal what they used to be able to afford.

“We merchandise beer in a certain way and things that are set too close to doors are a little too tempting,” Metzinger said. “I sat down in one of our stores this week close to our Coinstar machine, (where people come in to trade coins for cash). There was a line at that machine the entire time I was there. These people were dressed well and professional looking — people I might not have expected to stand in that line. It just illustrates to me a lot of folks are struggling.”

Since Angelina County became wet in 2007, Lufkin Police have investigated an average of 30 reported beer thefts a year, according to police spokesman Det. JB Smith. The modus operandi of a typical Lufkin beer thief is to come into a convenience store, grab beer that’s placed near the door and run out without paying, Smith explained.

“Sometimes they’ll work with someone else to get them to distract the clerk and walk out,” he said. “Typical though is for an individual person to go straight to the display and leave without giving an employee time to say anything about it.”

When beer thieves do make a grab-and-dash, police often turn to in-store security systems for video footage or descriptions from the clerk in identifying the thief to make an arrest.

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