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Food Store Chain Hopes Police Cutouts Will Cut Out Crime

December 28, 1989

DALLAS (AP) _ A food store chain is hoping that the unblinking stares of three police officers will deter shoplifting, even if the cops are only 6-foot cardboard cutouts.

The police officers stationed in Kroger stores this week are life-size and look pretty real. But they’re scarecrooks, operating on the same principle as scarecrows.

Police in London noticed a decrease in shoplifting after they put up cardboard bobbies in stores, Dallas Police Lt. A.J. D’Alessandro said Wednesday.

Kroger put officer cutouts - made from photos of three Dallas police officers - in three stores in Dallas, and move them around each month. After three months, Kroger plans to review the campaign to see whether it has been as successful as its British inspiration.

″I’m pretty sure we’ll have some success,″ D’Alessandro said. ″This campaign can be a limited-time success, but we’ll move the officers around to other stores. The people will be faced with a different officer, and they’ll be startled again.″

The cutouts portray officers in uniform in natural poses. A sign at the cutouts’ feet reads: ″Shoplifting is a Crime.″

Police Cpl. Chip Bulin appeared satisfied with the life-size cardboard photograph of himself. Also pictured are Cpls. Robert Garcia and Rodney Woods.

The cutouts are placed in areas conducive to theft, Tyner said. Bulin’s likeness was in the cosmetics department, Woods’ guarded cigarette cartons, batteries and the automated teller machine. Garcia’s cutout was placed near soda machines.

The photos, at D’Alessandro’s request, were shot straight on, ″to make it appear that wherever you move, they are looking at you.″

Charlie Tyner, security supervisor for Kroger, said the store is not trying to fool anyone with the cardboard cops.

″But it’s a startling way to say the same old message, that shoplifting is a crime,″ he said.

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