ALBANY, GA (WALB) - South Georgia law enforcers and store managers say shoplifting is increasing dramatically again, as Christmas approaches. This is important, because shoplifters end up costing all of us.
South Georgia store managers have to spend a lot of money on security teams, because thieves are doing their Christmas shopping, only they don't want to pay for it.
Thursday night, Regina Mathis was arrested for theft by shoplifting. Police say Mathis got a suitcase in the Albany Mall Belk, and stuffed it with more than $900 worth of purses, wallets, belts, clothes, and perfume, and tried to pay just for the suitcase.
Mathis didn't realize Belk's security team was watching her the whole time. Belk Manager Cheryl Bolden said, "A lot of the stores have security teams, and I don't think the shoplifters believe that it actually exists. But a lot of store have the security teams, so we're watching."
Many Albany stores hire security teams because shoplifters are working hard to steal their merchandise. They see professional teams traveling city to city. They see adults using kids to steal. And the thieves get bolder this time of year.
Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards said, "Everybody wants to have a Merry Christmas. Even at the expense of our store keepers."
The crime is such a problem in Albany, that Edwards has taken over personally prosecuting shoplifting cases, saying the crime is harming the community. "Shoplifting is never a victimless crime. You as a consumer will have to absorb the cost of those persons who steal."
And shoplifting losses have been known to force some stores to close. "If you have a store that has a high shrink, it can definitely affect the longevity of that business, you know, in this community," Bolden said.
So stores are tightening security and hiring officers, because shoplifting has become a part of Christmas shopping.
Managers appreciate customers who help them stop crime. If you see suspicious activity in a store, tell an employee and let them investigate. It could help keep down the costs you have to pay.