Merchants say shoplifting is skyrocketing -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Merchants say shoplifting is skyrocketing

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

September 24, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Store managers say the flailing economy and high gas prices are driving more people to steal.

Store managers tell us that shoplifting is usually a problem, but in recent months the thefts have increased dramatically. One retailer said shoplifters will cost his store between five to ten thousand dollars this month.

Dollar General Manager Aderyl Murphy said the reason he thinks the economy is driving the shoplifting problem at his store, the number of thefts and the people they are catching shoplifting.

"It's out of control. We have older people shoplifting. Eighty, 90-year-old people shoplifting. It's horrible now," Murphy said.

Murphy said it used to be kids stealing candy. Now the items being stolen the most, medicine and toiletries.  "The way the economy is now, they feel like all they have left to do is steal. All their money is tapped, so they feel like take it."

Dollar General has surveillance cameras across the store, and Murphy says their employees have stepped up watching for shoplifters, and they call police to arrest and prosecute the ones they catch.

"Because we have to set up a deterrent. If we are soft on them, they are going to think the store is soft, and they are going to pick this store to steal out of. So we got to set the example."

I talked with five other store managers who agreed with Murphy. Their franchise offices would not allow them to go on camera, but they told me that their shoplifting numbers were increasing, and they also were prosecuting shoplifters to try to keep the problem under control.

Because the stores said traditionally shoplifting increases during the holidays, but this year they say it has already increased.

Albany Police said in August there were 40 complaints against shoplifters, but Sunday alone, five Albany stores reported shoplifters to police.