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Saturday, June 15, 2024

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The Wrap: Surge in Retail Theft, College Degrees, Dredging Innovation

theft
Avalon PD
theft

By Herald Staff

Get ‘The Wrap,’ our take on the news of the week, in your inbox every Tuesday. Sign up at https://bit.ly/3goVpVr.

Feb. 6-12: 

Surge in Retail Theft 

A 2022 year-end report by the National Retail Federation claims that retail theft is ballooning, with organized retail crime incidents up over 26%. The rise of internet shopping has abetted this surge by giving shoplifters quick ways to resell stolen merchandise.   

The chief executive officer of the nation’s largest retailer,Walmartsays that the rise in retail theft is leading to price increases and may even result in some store closures. One thing is certain:Efforts to combat theft are making the shopping experience more arduous, as stores lock up items. 

The retail survey for 2022 states that “retail shrink” is an almost $100 billion problem. Shrink is the industry term for merchandise losses. According to the report, losses are the result of many factors, including an upsurge in shoplifting. The most ominous of the causes is the rise of organized retail crime (ORC). Almost half of the retailers surveyed indicated a rise in loss prevention budgets. 

According to the report, “Retailers are implementing a variety of technological solutions, fromartificial-intelligence-based video analytics at point of sale/self-checkout to self-servicelocking cases, autonomous security robots and license plate recognition.” 

Happy shopping. 

 

College Degrees 

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York issued a new report on the labor market for college graduates. The results continue to show an advantage for workers with a college degree with lower unemployment and underemployment rates, as well as a wage benefit, with college graduates, on average, outperforming those with only a high school diploma.  

That’s the good news. The not so good news is that large numbers of students who pursue that college degree don’t end up with one. The figures from the National Center for Education Statistics show that just 63% of students at the nation’s four-year institutions complete a degree program. Not surprisingly, the colleges with the highest graduation rates are the nation’s most elite institutions, including Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania in our area.  

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS, shows that the college graduation rate among New Jersey institutions of higher education ranks 21st out of the 50 states. Reports also show that while high school graduation rates have risen, college readiness has not always followed suit. Many students confronted with remedial classes and a need to take on loan burdens to finance higher education simply drop out. 

Some argue that we need to embrace models that emphasize apprenticeships and course work purposefully linked to technical skills. The Kirwan Report was Maryland’s response to the issue of underachievement and recommended both college and career readiness pathways. 

 

Dredging Innovation 

Back bay dredging has long been one of those constant headaches for the county’s island communities. It is expensive and prone to problems. It also defies the ability to plan for it. The need for emergency dredging is not uncommon. Avalon confronted two emergency dredge situations in the last two years.  

Dredging requires going through a cumbersome permit process that is both lengthy and expensive. Homeowners needing to maintain boat slips are also not free from this permit process headache. Avalon’s response is a unique effort to gain a boroughwide, multi-year dredging permit, which would give the borough the ability to respond to back bay shoaling and allow property owners to piggyback on the borough permit for slip maintenance. If the town is successful, it will be the first such permit of this kind in the state.  

Stone Harbor is even evaluating the possibility of going into the dredging business. A borough coastal consultant has raised the previously unheard-of idea of having the borough buy a used dredge and work through a consortium of municipalities to keep the dredge busy. For Stone Harbor, the other obvious benefit would be an ability to mine Hereford Inlet sand, which has been closed to the borough by a ban on the use of federal funds for borrowing sand from the inlet.  

Both towns are showing a willingness to explore new solutions to an ongoing problem.  

  

Happenings 

Increases in use have led Wildwood to introduce new drone regulations. The regulations set rules for where drones can be used and what permissions are needed. 

The annual electricity auction held by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities resulted in an increase in the per kilowatt charges from Atlantic City Electric, beginning June 1.  

Stone Harbor is working with the county to increase the safety of pedestriansin the busy intersection of 96th Street and Third Avenue.  

Cape May has received approval for its sea wall enhancement from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.  

Stone Harbor Council called a special meeting last week, with the sole agenda item being the firing of the borough administrator. The council members offered no reason for their action and stated no plan for borough operations going forward. The imminent drop in the borough’s CRS score may have played a role in the decision. 

Plans continue for retail cannabis sales in the county. The latest is the optimism surrounding a possible cannabis retail establishment at the Bayshore Mall in North Cape May.   

Cape May County is supporting U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s (R-2nd)call for a stop to offshore wind preconstruction work until more is known about the cause of a spate of whale deaths since early December 2022. 

Wonderland Pier, in Ocean City, is contesting a $10,000 fine issued by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for violations related to the fall and death of a worker in 2022. 

Mobile home residents, in Lower Township, want the municipality to embrace rent control measures but township officials are against the concept

A $19million grant from the state may have a transformative impact on the county’s sole technical high school, according to the school district’s new superintendent.  

Cape May is considering a hike in mercantile feesto have the fees better match the inflation in the cost of city services. 

The Wildwoods recently launched their 2023 tourism ad campaign, as resort communities across the county start preparing for another summer season.  

A new therapy dog program is paying dividends at Wildwood High School, with one senior saying it provides instant mood-enhancement.

 

Spout of the Week 

Court House – The Cape May County Open Spaces program should actually preserve open spaces. Our last remaining open spaces are under constant threat of being developed. The Open Spaces program needs to step up its open space preservation efforts, reach out to landowners again that applied but were rejected or initiate contact with landowners about preserving their land. Even small pieces of land are worth preserving. Just start preserving land! 

Read more spouts at spoutoff.capemaycountyherald.com.      

Spout Off

Lower Township – As a retired long time bus driver for NJT,and an even longer resident of LT : Thank you to all the school bus drivers for an accident free year. It is a monumental achievement in this day and age!

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Del Haven – I couldn't help but note that a Republican Rep likened Trump's speech to that of a drunk uncle at a dinner party, when he ranted about Milwaukee as being a terrible "city", Pelosi…

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Wildwood – I think it's only fitting wbp honors past chief cirelli with some sort of badges on their uniforms . Chief Lou lived for the summers and only wished the best for our city

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