ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged four women who drove up from Texas and stole more than $22,000 from several Kohl’s cosmetics counters.

Now, local retail businesses are preparing for the holiday season, and there is an effort underway to combat crime. According to court documents, the women had stolen merchandise when they were arrested.

The St. Louis County Police Department said the suspects stole over $12,000 worth of cosmetics from Sephora at Kohl’s in Fenton, Missouri, on Nov. 11. The suspects are also accused of additional thefts at other local Kohl’s stores.

As the holiday season approaches, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said this type of crime is on the rise across the country.

“The issue is becoming more difficult for retailers to deal with,” said David Johnston, vice president of asset protection and retail operations at the National Retail Federation. “It’s also an issue that is not a victimless crime or shoplifting. It’s where an individual may go and steal for personal use, where organized retail crime, they are doing it for financial gain and profit.”

NRF is advocating for Congress to pass the INFORM Act and Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the Des Peres Police Department is making sure they take the necessary steps to prevent it. The police department patrols West County Center and is gearing up for the holidays.

It is estimated that close to seven million people visit West County Center annually.

“It’s a regional mall, so day to day we have two officers assigned to West County Center, and we have the license plate reader cameras,” said Chief Eric Hall. “It lets us know if a car is stolen or wanted.”

One of the newest members is K-9 Obe, DSN 244. Obe is a dual-purpose K-9 unit with the Des Peres Department of Public Safety. Obe is trained to use his nose to locate firearms and track missing people. Obe is named after fallen Des Peres officer John L. Oberkramer, who paid the ultimate sacrifice on December 24, 1978. Obe spends his time patrolling with his handler at West County Center and in the city limits. Obe is a strong, loyal dog and enjoys serving the community. When he is off-duty, Obe loves playing catch, chewing on his antlers, and napping.

The NRF predicts that holiday retail sales will increase by 6% to 8% over 2021, to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion.