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Shoplifters using new methods to steal

BY ANDREA MOOREamoore@paducahsun.com

Area shoplifters have become more creative in stealing items from stores, according to some local government officials.

"Shoplifters are bringing in wire clippers and clipping security tags and items out of boxes,"  said Todd Jones, McCracken County assistant attorney.

"The biggest place that shoplifting occurs is Walmart," Jones said.  "There is also a large amount of shoplifting reported at the local Dollar General and Family Dollar stores."

According to Wal-Mart spokesperson Dianna Gee, the company devotes many resources into identifying shoplifters. 

"Our theft prevention associates are plain-clothed and are trained specifically to collect evidence and look for those that are breaking the law," Gee said.  

Donnie Smith, a manager at Hank Brothers True Value on Wayne Sullivan Drive, has noticed the same trend in shoplifting, which he said has increased at his store.

"Items are being clipped or taken out of boxes, and the empty boxes are being placed back on the shelves in different sections of the store," said Smith. "The other day, a whole faucet was taken out of its box."

More than $13 billion worth of goods are stolen from retailers each year, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, a nonprofit organization.  That's more than $35 million each day.      

Lt. Jason Riegler of the Mayfield Police Department has noticed a different technique in Mayfield.  

"The trend that we have noticed is that shoplifters are bringing in their own shopping bags and filling them up with items," Riegler said.  "I have noticed a definite increase in the last two years in shoplifting."

According to Riegler, this week his department was called out on three shoplifting cases in one day.  

Since 1994, Caldwell County Attorney James S. "Bridgie" Miller has required that defendants found guilty of shoplifting serve a minimum sentence of six days in jail with a fine.  

"When I became county attorney, one of the first things that merchants wanted to talk to me about is shoplifting," Miller said. "Merchants wanted something more substantial done than a fine or probation."

In McCracken County, the typical sentence for a shoplifter involves some jail time, theft prevention classes and an order to stay out of the store.   

"However, if a defendant shoplifts a large item or has a lengthy shoplifting record, then a larger sentence will be given," Jones noted.

Contact Andrea Moore, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8684.

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