Ceiling CCTV cameras are part of Kohl’s store security system in Kalamazoo County. (Julie Mack / MLive)
According to data collected by Michigan State Police, approximately 15,500 Michigan residents were arrested in 2018 for shoplifting or attempted retail store fraud.
This is a decrease of about 8% from 2017. However, the number of police reports for retail theft / fraud has actually increased.
In 2018, about 1 in 14 Michigan arrests involved retail fraud or theft.
How technology and retail trends have impacted shoplifting, for better or for worse
Below are some facts and figures about shoplifting, based on state police data.
2018 retail theft arrests by community
Our database shows the number of police reports and arrests in 2018 involving four categories of retail theft: Petty theft; change a price tag; fraudulent exchange or return; and an organized network of shoplifting or fencing of stolen goods at retail.
The database includes any city or township in Michigan that reported at least one incident of retail fraud or theft in 2018, based on data collected by Michigan State Police.
If you call a county without specifying a community, you can see towns and townships sorted by number of incidents.
This map shows the 83 counties shaded by the 2018 police report count per 10,000 population for retail fraud or theft.
You can hover your cursor over a county to see the underlying data.
Otsego County has the highest arrest rate
Among Michigan’s 83 counties, Otsego County, in the northern Lower Peninsula, had the highest arrest rate for theft or fraud in Michigan retailing in 2018.
There were 148 arrests in Otsego County, for a rate of 60 arrests per 10,000 population. Of the 160 arrests, 129 – or 87% – took place in the town of Gaylord.
Gaylord is a retail hub for the northern Lower Peninsula, with stores that include Walmart, Meijer, Kohl’s, Hobby Lobby, and Lowe’s.
Top 10 Counties for Retail Theft / Fraud Arrest Rate
Here are the other nine counties with the 2018 arrest rate for theft or retail fraud, based on arrests per 10,000 population:
2. Ogemaw County: 89 arrests for a rate of 42.5.
3. Marquette County: 268 arrests for a rate of 40.3.
4. Kalamazoo County: 925 arrests for a rate of 34.9.
5. County of Wexford: 101 arrests for a rate of 30.2.
6. Kent County: 1,851 arrests for a rate of 28.3.
7. Genesee County: 1,098 arrests for a rate of 27.
8. Grand Traverse: 237 arrests for a rate of 25.6.
9. Mecosta County: 111 arrests for a rate of 25.5.
10. Saginaw County: 467 arrests for a rate of 24.5.
A security camera under the awning of the Westside Party store in Saginaw Old Town on Monday, February 19, 2018 (Henry Taylor | MLive)
4 counties had no arrests for retail theft / fraud in 2018
Four counties were not arrested for theft or retail fraud in 2018: Alcona and Oscoda in the northeast of the Lower Peninsula, and Ontonagon and Keweenaw in the western Upper Peninsula. .
Four other counties have less than 1.0 retail theft arrests per 10,000 population: Cass, Kalkaska, Arenac and Lake.
92% of retail theft / fraud arrests involve shoplifting
About 92% of arrests for theft or retail fraud in 2018 were for simple theft. This compares to 4% for misrepresentation, such as changing price tags, and 2.5% for a fraudulent return or exchange. About 1.4% of arrests involved an organized crime ring.
The number of arrests is falling
Arrests in Michigan for theft and retail fraud fell 35% between 2009 and 2018. During the same period, arrests for all crimes fell 10%.
The number of police reports has fallen less
Incidents of retail theft and fraud in Michigan – the number of police reports filed – were down 9% in 2018 from 2009. Over the same period, the number of police reports for all incidents fell by 25%.
The percentage of arrests in relation to incidents has decreased
The graph below compares the number of police reports to the number of arrests from 2009 to 2018. It shows that the percentage of arrests in relation to the number of police cases has decreased.