90 percent of Lee County shoplifting happens at Walmart - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

90 percent of Lee County shoplifting happens at Walmart

LEE CO., GA (WALB) -

Lee County, Georgia is known for being a rural, quiet community, that has gained notoriety over the past decade for producing pageant, music, and sports talent.

But shoplifting crimes are up for 2014, according to the Lee county Sheriff's Office.

Even by itself, shoplifting makes up close to half of all the crimes in Lee County, and the majority are just from one store: the Walmart on Ledo Road.

"I would say almost 90 percent," said Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals.

He said the enormous number was about the same last year.

The numbers show shoplifting is the most committed crime in Lee County, followed by cases of entering autos and burglaries.

But investigators said 2014 is worse. Lee County Sheriff's deputies have been called to Walmart 194 times so far in 2014.

In 2013, they were called to the Ledo Road Walmart 269 times for the entire year.

Deputies arrested 244 people for shoplifting county wide, and 90 percent of them were at Walmart in 2013.

This year the total arrests have already increased to 265 people.

Sheriff Rachals said the shoplifters will steal just about anything, from candy to big-ticket items.

"They steal things like iPads, iPods, all those technology things," said Sheriff Rachals. "Games and TV's. They'll come in there and take a TV out of a box and try to walk out with it."

He said many of the shoplifters arrested are repeat offenders, and Walmart does prosecute them.

"It overloads his courtroom, said Rachals. "When the judge there sees a repeat offender, he has to do what he's got to do, and locks them up."

However, most of the shoplifting arrests are not people from Lee County. Reports show they are actually from surrounding areas.

"Holidays [are] coming up. It's going to increase," said Sheriff Rachals.

Meanwhile, his office is sending a message: Walmart's loss prevention officers are vigilant, and Lee County is ready to arrest and prosecute.

WALB contacted Walmart for comment on the crime issues in Lee County, but they did not return messages.

Copyright 2014 WALB. All rights reserved.

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