With the holiday season comes holiday shopping and a lot of it. This year Americans are expected to spend a record $957 billion on gifts according to the National Retail Federation. CBS 6 spoke with experts who say all of that spending is bringing more than just presents to your front door.

A December smash and grab at luxury boutique Lola Saratoga in Saratoga Springs resulted in a more than $100,000 loss for the owner.

“This business is absolutely my baby. I started this business 10 years ago and I started from nothing, and I really put everything I have into this business so for this to happen to me is really devastating,” said Megan Druckman, Owner, Lola Saratoga.

It’s a harsh reality this time of year as crooks look to capitalize on the holiday season.

Saratoga Springs police are now stepping up patrols as they deal with thefts on the ground and by the phone.

“We’ve seen an increase in larcenies which are basically thefts. Our year-to-year overtime show that larcenies have increased, we’ve also seen more of the online scams, and the scams of people calling for bail, for release of information and things like that,” said Paul Veitch, Lieutenant Patrol Division, Saratoga Springs Police Department.

Retail theft and holiday crime are not just impacting those in the Capital Region, but people across the state and country too.

According to the National Retail Federation, retailers suffered a $112 billion loss in 2022 due to theft, up from a $93 billion loss in 2021.

The Retail Council of New York State says stores across the state have lost more than $4 billion to retail theft.

Following Governor Hochul’s veto of a proposed retail crime task force the retail council released a statement saying in part:

“I spoke with Governor Hochul at length to discuss the need for immediate action and an effective, collaborative response to this problem. She made it abundantly clear that retail theft prevention will be a priority for her administration, and we look forward to working with her to achieve results.” Melissa O’Connor, President and CEO, Retail Council of New York State.

However retail crimes and scams aren’t just happening in person or by the phone anymore, according to the Better Business Bureau they’re happening online too.

“It’s the number one scam impacting every age group. Four out of five scams reported to the BBB actually involve online purchases, so that’s something to keep in mind as you’re doing your shopping. Scammers know what the shopping trends are and what the hot ticket items are each year. If you see ads on social media where it looks like a great deal and it sounds too good to be true it most likely is,” said Katarina Schmieder, Communications Director, Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York.

The BBB also reporting gift card scams are up 50 percent since this time last year.

“Scammers are now able to place a bar code sticker over an existing bar code on a gift card that’s on a shelf in a store. So if you take one off the shelf just make sure that the box hasn’t been tampered with and run your finger along the back to make sure that a sticker hasn’t been placed over it,” said Schmieder.

The BBB, law enforcement as well as community and business leaders warn everyone to stay vigilant this holiday shopping season.

Saratoga police are still investigating the theft at Lola Saratoga. If you know anything please contact police.

If you think you’ve fallen victim to an online scam, you can report that to the better business bureau at this link.


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