When police and retailers want to apprehend organized retail crime rings, Foxboro resident Anthony Stevens helps them put the puzzle together.
Sifting through police reports and talking to retail loss prevention officials throughout New England, Stevens, who has worked for the Attleboro Police Department as a crime analyst for six years, helps identify roving thieves who experts say can steal $100,000 in merchandise in a single crime spree.
The armchair detective was recognized for his work Wednesday with an award from the New England Organized Retail Crime Alliance and the New England State Police Information Network.
“It’s nice to be recognized but it’s something I just like to do,” said Stevens, 46.
It’s not the only recognition he has received for his expertise.
Three years ago, he was given a Commissioner’s Commendation for his work with the Boston Regional Intelligence Center fighting organized retail crimes.
Boston police said he went above and beyond his duty in helping investigations in Boston and the New England region by amassing the data and convening meetings between law enforcement and retailers.
“What we try to do is problem solving. We all want to try to solve the crime,” Stevens said of his efforts.
He said it’s important to spot trends in crime, track criminals and share information in order to apprehend them. A wider regional approach in gathering information can lead to cutting down the crime rate.
“You have to know what’s going on regionally to know what’s going on in your town,” Stevens said.
Attleboro Police Chief Kyle Heagney called Stevens a “hub of information” for crime not only in Attleboro but the surrounding region.
“He’s not just a bean counter,” Heagney said. “He puts the pieces of the puzzle together.”
Ken Spurling, president of the New England Organized Retail Crime Alliance, said organized retail criminals are responsible for an estimated $35 billion in thefts in the United States.
“They are not just your average shoplifting groups,” Spurling said.
Organized thieves move from store to store in multiple states and can steal $100,000 in merchandise in a single crime spree in addition to resorting to violence to escape arrest, he said.
The thieves turn around and sell the merchandise for half-price, resulting in lost sales to retailers who then pass the costs on to consumers.
“We absolutely need more people like Anthony,” Spurling said.
Stevens is stepping down as a board member of the alliance but says he will still maintain contact with the organization and share intelligence.
Adam Berg of the State Police Information Network said Stevens helps identify and track suspects in not only retail crimes but organized thieves who steal tires and rims and catalytic converters.
“He’s good at whatever he touches,” said Berg, who is a criminal intelligence research specialist for NESPIN.
Heagney said Stevens, who works closely with the Problem Orientated Policing unit, has been invaluable to the department in fighting crime.
“We’re a data driven organization. We go where Anthony tells us to prevent an issue from becoming a larger issue,” Heagney said.