ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Plato's Closet's staff have been dealing with a major shoplifting problem, one that has cost them more than $100,000 dollars in stolen merchandise in a year's time.
Plato's Closet's store manager Jerhonda Bernard is often on the lookout for empty hangers, a sign of store theft.
Two months into the new year, and Bernard said there have already been 15 shoplifting incidents.
"I mean it was just that bold where you walk out of the store in broad daylight 12 or 1 o'clock in the afternoon with five bags of merchandise," explained Bernard.
To do something so bold, Bernard believed requires some preparation.
"They have someone waiting on them outside in their getaway car, ready to go right then," said Bernard.
"We were successful in convicting a shoplifter in a jury trial today," said District Attorney Greg Edwards.
He said stealing merchandise in groups is a growing issue in Dougherty County.
"They come in with two or more persons to act in different roles within the process of shoplifting," said Edwards.
He also clarified that under Georgia law, shoplifting is the act of concealing an item with an intent to take it. You don't even have to leave the store with items.
The owner recently bought new walkie talkie monitors to help floor staff to communicate with one another when they spot suspicious activity.
And Bernard said they plan to start prosecuting shoplifters to put an end to the growing problem.
"It takes away from me being at the job but it's also kind of going to send out a message that we're no longer going to accept it," said Bernard.
Floor staff have started to walk the store every 15 minutes.
And they also hired a security guard to watch the store.