DENVER — A Downtown Denver business owner says shoplifting at his stores has gotten so bad he's having to charge customers a fee to make up the costs.
"[It's called the] Denver Crime Spike Fee, and so that'll be a 1% transaction fee for all of the items that are purchased in our stores," Derek Friedman, owner of several Sportsfan and Sock Em Sock Emporium locations in the Denver metro, said Sunday.
Since 2019, he says shoplifting at his downtown and Federal Boulevard stores has tripled.
"There's zero consequences, I think, for property crime in the Denver area. It seems like it's dropped to barely anything," Friedman said.
It's forced him to impose this new Denver Crime Spike Fee to help him recover thousands of dollars in losses, as originally reported by Denver Business Journal. The fee will go live in February.
"We're talking about six figures [in losses] for a really small business like us, and that is meaningful. It impacts our employees, and, more importantly, it now is going to impact our shoppers," Friedman said.
The problem has also made it harder for him to keep employees as they'd rather work at Park Meadows or Cherry Creek Mall.
"When you have the impact of having someone come in and wander around the store and then grab a jersey and a hat and pull out a machete and walk out, it does have an issue with your ability to recruit and retain employees," Friedman said.
Tobey Zamora, a customer born and raised in Denver, isn't too happy with the forthcoming 1% fee, but he knows the situation downtown right now is a bit rough.
"You got to do what you got to do. It sucks. It sucks that it falls back on us consumers," he said. "I'm not okay. But if I have to, I have to. I mean, I'm not gonna stop buying what I want."
Friedman says he may have to increase the fee in the future if things don't improve in the next few months. But he hopes by taking action, local and state leaders will pay more attention — and so will customers.
"My hope is that over the course of the coming months, some different approaches are taken to enforcement and police presence and attitudes towards police and the great job that they do protecting businesses like ours," he said.
Denver7 reached out to the Downtown Denver Partnership about Friedman's concerns. No one was available for an on-camera interview Sunday, but the group's president and CEO Kourtny Garrett shared the following statement:
The Downtown Denver Partnership and Downtown Denver Business Improvement District (BID) are deeply committed to ensuring that Downtown Denver is a place where people not only are safe – but feel safe – and that businesses have the resources they need to succeed.
Every major city in the nation is facing crime increases and safety challenges. While this is a national systemic issue, we know action needs to be taken to ensure that businesses in our downtown core are supported and that people committing crimes are held accountable.
Since 2016, the BID has funded a comprehensive downtown security program including private security that provides a uniformed presence on the street year-round to inform and report issues, connect with businesses, and direct people in crisis to resources. The BID also has a Clean and Safe reporting app that allows all Downtown users to report issues, while working closely with the Denver Police Department and property owners to proactively deploy resources based on need and support business owners to address specific concerns at their location.
We remain deeply committed to ensuring that Downtown Denver is a place where people want to shop, work, play and stay. In that, a comprehensive approach to safety remains our top priority.