KENNEWICK, Wash.- Kennewick police arrested a woman at Walmart Tuesday night, after the theft Prevention team stopped her from putting un-purchased items into used bags she had brought, with the intention of leaving without paying for them. When Kennewick Police arrived, they found out that the woman had already been banned from all Walmart’s due to an incident at the Pasco location two years ago. Because of this, the misdemeanor theft was upgraded to a felony burglary.

With Covid-19 making finances harder for families everywhere, it seems that thefts have been increasing. I spoke with Officer Adam Greiber with the Kennewick Police Department who noticed a similar trend.

"It SEEMS like we get more calls I would say perception wise, just from a street cops point of view, it feels like there's an increase in misdemeanor thefts."

While he didn’t have the hard data on hand during our call, we did discuss WHY this could happening.

"I think lot of it unfortunately ties back to some of the economic hardships that people are feeling. Also, I think there is a component that deals with those who are dealing with addiction and mental health issues, who then become homeless. A lot of times we see these feed off each other, and then people commit misdemeanor thefts due to some of these life circumstances."

No one likes to ask for help, whether it’s associated with finances, mental health or substance abuse, BUT it is a much better alternative to having a crime on your record. The Tri-Cities has so many resources to help people in need- there’s food banks, churches, transitions centers, men’s and women’s shelter, organizations like Compassionate Care in Kennewick as well as state funded programs.

"We encourage anybody who finds themselves on hard times, and if they feel like they're presented with a decision in life, where it's either a) commit a crime or b) someone goes hungry, start sounding those alarm bells, ring out, reach out, contact our dispatch non-emergency number and ask to speak to an officer about resources."

He says the Kennewick Police Department loves to be involved BEFORE they have to arrest someone- and they are more than willing to help out when people ask.

"There's nothing wrong with that, there's nothing to be ashamed about, we have a very generous and supportive community here where if you reach out and ask for help you would be amazed with what the community responds with."

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