PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office has established a new task force to tackle the growing problem of thefts from homes and businesses in the city.
The Organized Retail and House Theft Task Force is funded by the City Council and is made up of attorneys from the D.A.'s office and police.
"That doesn't mean we weren't doing this before now. What we have done though is work now in the community with retailers as well as the police department... to come out with a better approach about how we tackle both of these issues at the same time," said Asst. District Attorney Kim Esack, who will be leading the task force.
The group will reportedly focus on fencing operations, those who receive stolen goods for resale, to go after repeat offenders.
According to police, there were around 14,200 reported retail thefts in 2022, up 52% from 2021.
That number jumped to more than 18,000 in 2023.
"Then [stores] have to hire people to eyeball folks when they come in, and that makes people feel uncomfortable that are not here to steal but to purchase items," said Pete Wilson, co-founder of Philadelphia Community Outreach.
A new state law went into effect this year cutting the value thresholds for 2nd- and 3rd-degree felonies in half.
District Attorney Larry Krasner says in the coming days his office will be announcing refinements to the current retail theft policy.
The announcement comes two months after security guard Eric Harrison was stabbed to death at a Center City Macy's.
Police say the 30-year-old suspect was trying to steal hats.