THORNTON, Colo. (KDVR) — Some 54% of small business owners reported an increase in shoplifting over recent years, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

It’s a reality business owners say is all too common in Colorado.

FOX31 spoke with Todd Waufle, the owner of Satire Brewing Company in Thornton.

“We had a smash and grab when we first opened up,” Waufle said. “Now it’s just an added thing. You have to put in extra security, you have to pay more attention, you might have to hire more staff for safety. You just have to watch out for more things, and it’s definitely not good for small business.”

Rep. Caraveo meets with chamber, police

It’s an issue U.S. Rep. Yadira Caraveo, the Thornton Chamber of Commerce and the Thornton Police Department are working to address.

“The whole community is coming together and saying this is a problem for all of us,” Caraveo said.

On Tuesday, Caraveo, Thornton Police and Courtney Potter, executive director of the Thornton Chamber of Commerce, met to discuss the rise in retail crime. 

“We’ve seen an impact whether it is homeless encampments or retail theft across the entire city. It’s just really impacted everyone of all sizes,” Potter said. “There have been a number of businesses that have said, ‘We can’t sustain this anymore,’ and they will close up shop and move online, or they will move to a different community that maybe doesn’t have these issues. But for the most part, it is just the cost of doing business these days.”

Surveillance image showing a person reach over to the cash register in a gas station
At the corner of 14th Avenue and Lyden Street in Denver, Cesar Diaz turned his dream of owning a mechanic shop and gas station into a reality. But thieves broke in and damaged the place. (Courtesy of Cesar Diaz)

Thornton Police working on ‘business watch’ program

Thornton Police Lt. Ernie Lucero said the department is working on a new “Business Watch” program.

“It has to be a teamwork approach, and that is the goal of our community watch program, is to work with our businesses and give them ideas with what to look for to help, especially some of our mom and pops,” Lucero said. “They may not have that forethought of things to look for.”

He said they’re hoping to roll out the new program in 2024.

A bill introduced in the U.S. House earlier this year is also gaining some bipartisan support. The Combating Organized Retail Crime Act would expand federal enforcement of laws targeting organized retail crime and establish an organized retail crime coordination center.