Get caught shoplifting in Dover and you'll find your picture on the Dover Police website.
It will be the modern day equivalent of tacking a criminal’s “wanted” poster on the Post Office wall.
Beginning in August, the Dover Police Department will post on the department’s web page mug shots and investigative information on any adult arrested for shoplifting.
The intent is to notify local merchants because many shoplifting crimes are committed by repeat offenders, said department spokesman Cpl. Mark Hoffman.
“The department’s goal is that by releasing the information, store employees will be better informed when monitoring their stores and inventory, and suspects will think twice before stealing merchandise in fear that their name and photo will be shared with the public,” he said.
In the past three years, Dover police have investigated 2,273 shoplifting cases within city limits, an average of 2.5 per day, Hoffman said.
Other departments using a similar system have seen as much as a 10 percent drop in shoplifting cases in the first year of the program, he said.
Dover Police also tie shoplifting to more serious drug crimes, Hoffman said, adding that a large number of people shoplift to either get the goods they cannot afford because they’ve spent money on drugs or because they plan to sell the items for drug money.
Police hope a decline in shoplifting cases may have an effect on illegal drug activity in the city, he said.
Anyone over the age of 18 arrested for shoplifting will have their photo placed on the department’s website and distributed through other social media outlets, Hoffman said. The photos will go up regardless of the value of the item taken, the store it was taken from or the reason why it was taken.
The notifications are similar to standard press releases put out by the department, and any suspect is considered innocent until they are proven guilty in a court of law.
The program will exempt suspects under the age of 18, Hoffman said.