From cell phone to jail cell?

Tisbury detective alerts shop owners to shoplifters via text alerts.

One of the text alert tests set up by Tisbury detective Max Sherman to notify local businesses of potential shoplifters. — Brian Dowd

A new security measure has the Tisbury Police Department and town businesses working together to curtail anyone looking for a five-finger discount.

A few weeks ago, Tisbury Police Det. Max Sherman began putting together an email and text response alert that notifies business owners and managers of potential shoplifting threats.

If a theft occurs at a store in Tisbury, Sherman will respond to the scene, get an image of the shoplifter if there is one, and send out the image to other businesses that have signed up for the alert.

In the past, Sherman would hand-deliver photocopies of shoplifters to individual businesses in town. Now he has streamlined the process so business owners and managers can get notifications right to their phones.

“I talked with the Edgartown Police Department, and they’ve gotten a great response from it,” Sherman said of the alert system that has been successful in the neighboring town.

Sherman stressed the police will always respond to reports of shoplifting, but the alerts are an extra measure to help prevent crimes before they happen.

Sherman said he’s still working out the kinks with his IT department, but overall the alerts are working well, and people have reached out to him to sign up. Businesses can sign up for the alerts, and always take their name off if they decide they don’t want to receive them.

So far, only one instance of shoplifting has prompted an alert, when an unidentified person was filmed shoplifting two weeks ago.

“I think it’s a great what [Det. Sherman] is doing. I think it’s a smart idea for a small business community,” Jen Oliver, owner of Blissed Out and Crystal Cave, said.

Sports Haven owner Bill Miner told the Times shoplifting is not a huge issue at his store, but unfortunately it does happen. Miner supports the alerts, but just hopes they won’t be necessary. “I think it’s a good idea. It’s been very helpful. I alerted my staff. The more we can help each other out, the better it is for everybody,” he said.



  1. It would have been helpful if the Times had bothered to actually read these “alerts”, rather than just regurgitate this TPD propaganda to the the public. While it appears to be a noble goal, assisting small merchants from these predatorial losses, shoplifting is frequently a misdemeanour. These text alerts may very well trample the Due Process concerns in the Constitution (innocent till proven guilty, remember?) as well encourage a sort of vigilante mob justice against innocent persons who merely resemble the alleged shoplifters. How many of those grainy, blurry photos do I need to illustrate my point? Next will be a National Identity Card, to be shown on demand by Sherman, to anyone who resembles or not. These accusations of shoplifting from our highly trained in law enforcement technique Tisbury merchants, is ripe for abuse. On every level, Sherman is desperate for the accolades in instituting this potentially abusive program with little regard for the Constitution.

Comments are closed.

Previous articleWest Tisbury: Blueberry Fest on Saturday
Next articleVisiting Vet: Mast cell cancer