Could bad economic times drive people to crime? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Could bad economic times drive people to crime?

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May 29, 2008

Albany -- As the price of gasoline, food, and almost everything it seems continues to skyrocket, Prosecutors worry that crime in South Georgia could increase as well.

The number of people indicted for shoplifting is on the rise, and South Georgia business owners say they are having to spend more money for security to stop increasing thefts.

Shoplifting is on the increase at the Warehouse Liquors in Albany, and the manager says economic tough times are to blame.

Warehouse Liquors Manager Louis Bernard said "it seems to be everyone is struggling. As people get more desperate, they'll try things."

Four people, Kristina Banks, Dorothy Green, and Milton Green, were recently indicted for stealing food from a Harvey's Super Market.

"That's keeping with the trend that some business owners have noticed about the economic times," said Dougherty Chief Assistant District Attorney Greg Edwards.

Prosecutors say most of the cases of shoplifting are done by thieves trying to get something for nothing, but they worry hard times could lead to more crime.

"We may see an increase in this type of economically driven crime. So we want to be more mindful as citizens and business owners of these issues," Edwards said.

The Warehouse Liquors has increased security to fight shoplifters, including more security cameras, and extra training for their staff. Crime also causes cost increases.

"It's not only a burden on the businessman, it's a burden on everybody. Because retailers have to charge more for their products in order to recover losses from shoplifting," Bernard said.

The Warehouse Liquors will prosecute shoplifters, knowing that tough economic times have created what they call desperate people in the community, willing to steal.

Shoplifting is a misdemeanor crime, if the value of the stolen items is under $300. Over that, it becomes a felony.

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