Colorado hardware store owner concerned by recent rise in ‘apparent’ shoplifting crimes

Business owners in Colorado have always had to budget for the possibility of theft. While rare, shoplifting was documented as early as the 1700s and 1800s and much like it is today, it is becoming a business for many thieves. The only problem now? Business is booming.

According to the 2022 National Retail Security Survey, eight out of 10 retailers report increased incidents of violence and aggression in the past year

“It’s a daily event. Even depending on how long you’ve been here, someone’s stealing,” said Todd Erwin, owner of Green Mountain Ace Hardware in Lakewood and Golden Ace Hardware in Golden.


Ace hardware

The Erwin family has owned Ace Hardware Stores in Colorado since the early 1960’s. Erwin, who took over for his father in 2013, says his family has been stunned by Ace’s rise in crime.

“The biggest change is that we’ve seen the organized part of it, so they come in with cell phones, they have getaway vehicles, they distract our management team and then the big ticket items that just walk out with a handful of power tools, electronics, chainsaws, Yetis .”

Erwin’s Golden Ace Hardware opened last October, and it was an opening that should have been celebrated with celebration. Instead, his presentation of Yeti coolers was the first thing to go.


Ace hardware

Erwin has high-tech surveillance but says it’s only to aid law enforcement in the aftermath. When people steal, he says the Lakewood police have advised Erwin and his employees to let them go.

Erwin, meanwhile, believes shoplifting calls are on the cards, but says an Ace Hardware owner at Highlands Ranch let a suspect go after waiting 30 minutes for a police response.

“I think it starts with the government changing the laws so that there are higher penalties,” he said.

Currently in Colorado, shoplifting of goods valued less than $2,000 is considered petty or misdemeanor theft, and anything above that is a felony.

Erwin estimates he’s lost well over 2% of his annual revenue due to the rise in crime, but he no longer advises employees to stop anyone. Although many are still trying.

“We’re just hands off,” he said. “No chasing, no exiting the building…”

Erwin doesn’t shy away from showing the faces of the perpetrators. He believes many aren’t even Colorado residents, but hopes he can encourage lawmakers to act by showcasing the elevator’s frequency and ease.

While it’s not clear how lawmakers intend to tackle shoplifting and related organized crime, there is a plan to try.


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