A year after privatization, liquor thefts rampant

SPOKANE, Wash. - Liquor theft

More than a year after Washington privatized liquor sales stores continue to deal with brazen shoplifters.

Right now stores don't have to disclose what's been stolen but lawmakers are hoping to change that. While stores don't have to disclose what's being stolen, Dian Lee, who lives in the Logan neighborhood, only has to look around her neighborhood and behind the grocery store to see how much is being stolen.

"I've seen liquor bottles, empty liquor bottles, of course we see those all the time," Lee said.

But not just liquor bottles, but the toppers that go along with them, clear evidence of a stolen item. They're popping up because people are popping them off after stealing liquor.

"It's a good neighborhood except for all the problems with things like liquor," Lee said.

When it happens at the Safeway at the intersection of Mission and Hamiltion, for example, the stolen loot can be found everywhere: In Mission Park, on the other side of the train tracks, right behind the Witter Aquatic Center.

"The crews there do a lot of work to keep those parks up, the garbage out, and the parks looking nice and enjoyable for the community," Brian Coddington with the City of Spokane said.

The Spokane Parks Department is constantly working to clean up the area and clear out the people who stay here. They've posted signs, for example, to keep transients out.

"We have to strike a balance between cleaning things up and keeping them accessible, but also making sure the activity there is appropriate for the park," Coddington said.

So far however, people aren't paying much attention to either the signs or the law.

"I really don't know what they can do about it, but I hope they can do something," Lee said.

The Spokane Police Department said it's tough to determine how much has been stolen because it's also a private matter for the store, which mirrors in part what Safeway said. In an e-mail the company said theft is a highly sensitive security issue that they do not discuss with the media.