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It's also a big weekend for people who shop but don't pay

Losses and arrests go up in November and December

Yes, lots of people were standing in line to buy things at bargain prices Friday. But Black Friday is also a big day for those people who shop and skip the checkout line.

One expert tells Valley News Live Black Friday is the biggest day of the year for shoplifters. But he says we don't really know how much is lost because some of those thieves are never caught.

Then again, some of them are.

A group of 10 suspected shoplifters was arrested at a Kohl's store in Fargo on Friday morning, the Forum reports. And police in Dilworth say officers caught three people stealing $1,600 worth of Fitbits from a Walmart.

Organized shoplifting

Police especially want to crack down on people who steal large amounts of stuff repeatedly and sell it on the black market.

Cops call that "organized retail crime" and a business group that formed to stop it says it's a global epidemic.

The National Anti-Organized Retail Crime Association estimates the cost of those crimes in the U.S. is $30 billion to $40 billion per year. They say we all pay for it because it means higher prices and less tax revenue.

And the problem seems to be getting worse.

The National Retail Federation has been surveying store owners annually for 12 years about the problem. This year for the first time every owner they surveyed thought they'd been hit by organized retail crime. Most of them (83 percent) said it had happened in the past year.

Twin Cities cops mobilize to fight it

Black Friday was also the launch date for a new push by more than 30 law enforcement agencies in the Twin Cities to fight this kind of big-time shoplifting.

They're calling it Operation Blitz and the Twin Cities Organized Retail Crime Association said in a statement it involves partnerships between law enforcement and stores that are unprecedented here.

You won't necessarily see more uniformed officers in stores because some of the work will be done undercover.

Charlie Anderson, who leads the group behind Operation Blitz, is also a St. Paul police sergeant. He tells WCCO he recently arrested a suspected professional shoplifter he'd been tracking for awhile. The suspect was getting a weekly list of items to steal from "someone known to police," Anderson told the station.

If you know a chronic shoplifter, you might steer them toward the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention which has mental health resources to help people struggling to stop.

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