CHESTERFIELD. MO - It is a scene reminiscent of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’: a man cuts a hole through a wall to get to the other end.
Except, in this case, the criminal is a shoplifter at a hardware store in Chesterfield. He was concealing backsplash tiles.
“He’d go and [cut] a hole outside Lawn & Garden. And he would push it out the hole,” Chesterfield Police Officer Trevor McBride.
McBride is a member of his department’s Special Enforcement Unit or SEU. The group responds to calls for shoplifting, fraudulent activity and any other potential criminal activity in retail areas.
With the holiday shopping in full swing, Chesterfield Police want shoppers and any law-breakers to know that the unit is out patrolling shopping areas in both uniform and plain clothes.
In a Fox 2 exclusive, Jasmine Huda rode along with police on patrol for the Special Enforcement Unit.
Officer McBride not only knows the crime trends from booster bags to grab and goes.
“I’ve had a couple, say ‘Hey, McBride,’ when I go to arrest them,” he said.
Officer McBride is busy going after troublemakers year-round. Chesterfield’s large retail footprint includes the outlet malls and the shopping mall.
On a recent Friday evening, police responded to a few calls including an attempted high-dollar heist.
“Michael Kors called me. There’s a man in there,” a fellow officer relayed to Officer McBride.
“$3,300 worth of purses,” McBride said. “He presented a credit card, which was a Mastercard. It was swiped. It came back as a Visa. And it was declined, which is a clear sign this guy is up to credit card fraud.”
A team of officers swarmed the area next to the outlet mall.
“Security just said the guy was last seen running over the levy,” McBride relayed to his colleague.
The transaction was canceled and police were able to learn that the man was part of a large out-of-state theft ring.
In the month of November, the Chesterfield Police Department’s SEU made 41 adult arrests, 3 juvenile arrests recovering more than $36,00 in stolen property. Of those arrested, there were 26 felony charges, 28 misdemeanor charges, 18 fugitive charges, and 8 drug charges (some suspects had multiple charges).
Many of these criminals are well known to many departments, not just Chesterfield, Officer McBride said.
“Usually, you’ll see the top three. They’re usually wanted by Richmond Heights, Des Peres, and St. Peters,” he said.
During a time of year when retail activity ramps up, he has this message to the would-be bad guys:
“This holiday season, we’ll have lots of officers, in the malls, in the parking lots. Or undercover. Just making sure everything goes smoothly. We want it to be an enjoyable place.”