(Port Charlotte) Last week members from a variety of specialty units within the Sheriff’s Office participated in Operation RECEIPT to target retail thefts at Wal-Mart and Target. Over a four-day period, they made 14 arrests.

Operation RECEIPT stands for “Rapidly Engaging Criminal Entities Involving Property Thefts.” Between Tuesday September 24 and Friday September 27, members of the Intelligence Unit, Street Crimes Unit, Warrants Unit, Community Policing Officers, and Criminal Investigations Section worked with loss prevention personnel from both Wal-Mart and Target. The stores’ loss prevention crews inside the stores kept in contact with the Sheriff’s Office personnel who were stationed both in the stores and in the parking lots.

The operation was conceived as a proactive approach to combating retail theft in Charlotte County while forming a closer working relationship with area businesses. During this operation, Sheriff’s Office members issued a Wal-Mart corporate trespass notice to those charged with retail thefts from that retailer. That means that the person is warned against returning to any Wal-Mart in Charlotte County instead of just applying to a single store.

According to Sgt. Christopher Maler, who heads the Intelligence Unit, Wal-Mart was very receptive to the new trespass notices. And both Target and Wal-Mart have expressed an interest in putting together another such operation. Several other local businesses that heard about Operation RECEIPT have approached the Sheriff’s Office asking about similar operations.