These RATTs are out to protect shoppers, merchants

The RATTs are out in Fairfax County malls and shopping centers.{ }But these RATTs are police officers, working in teams, in their annual push to protect shoppers and merchants.

Retail Anti-Theft Teams (RATT) of the Fairfax County Police are targeting phony credit cards, stolen identifications, and out-of-state shoplifting scammers, police say.

Teams of uniformed and plain-clothes RATT officers are working in shopping malls and retail businesses. While they're watching for any possible shoplifters, they particularly focus on professionals who distract store employees while their associates across the store conceal and steal merchandise.

Police say that on Saturday, November 19, a man was in a high-end jewelry store in Tyson's Corner Mall looking at a $10,000 watch. A sales clerk noticed a discrepancy in the customer’s paperwork and conducted a quick search.

The clerk discovered the man was on the Prince George’s County Police Top Ten list of Wanted Felons where he was described as "violent." She stalled him as police officers approached the store.

The suspect fled but was caught by mall security and RATT officers. When the suspect was arrested, police discovered over $20,000 worth of merchandise he had purchased allegedly using stolen credit cards from Maryland and Virginia.

In 2010, RATT officers made numerous arrests, charging suspects with fraud, forgery, embezzlement, possession of stolen property, distribution of narcotics and more, police say.

In the Fair Oaks Police District, 41 adults and 23 juveniles were charged with 182 felony and misdemeanor offenses.

In the McLean Police District, 115 people were charged with 152 offenses, and $196,386 worth of stolen merchandise was recovered., police say.