Wiregrass: Retail thefts on the rise

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Dothan, AL (WSFA) - We're entering the busiest time of the year for retailers, but it's not just because of shoppers.

In addition to preparing for the holiday rush, stores also have to deal with an increase in shoplifting, something that's caught the attention of Dothan Municipal Judge Rose Gordon.

Gordon said, "On a normal docket I might have five to seven theft of property cases.  And I noticed that it was increasing exponentially to the point than when I really added it up, it was up to 20-25 per docket."

She also says most of the thefts she sees aren't your typical cases.

"I started looking closer, and I saw that a lot of it was food items, not your traditional theft of properties.  And I started wondering, how much of it was tied to the economy?"

Authorities say, a surge in petty crimes during this time of year is no coincidence.

Officer Thomas Davis said, "The closer you get to the holidays, that's when we see more shoplifting and people trying to get away with those things."

Sandi White, a Dothan resident said, "I think it's sad because people steal stuff that other people have worked hard for."

Others like Reyna Johnson said, "It's the stress of the holiday season.  People feel pressured to purchase gifts."

But no matter what's causing these thefts, retailers have to make up the cost somewhere.  Many times it falls on the consumer.

White says, she thinks that's unfair, "I don't like having to pay extra just people want to be stupid and steal stuff."

But police say, shoplifters beware!  Stores and local law enforcement are beefing up security.

Davis said, "And if you get caught, you're going to have to pay the price."

Retailers hope folks will spend their time looking for bargains, rather than a steal.

The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention says one in eleven people have shoplifted, and an average of 35 million goods are stolen from retailers annually.

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