our view

Shoplifting is a common plague on businesses large and small not only in Alexander City but nationally.

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, American retailers lose almost $50 billion annually to theft with shoplifting accounting for most of those losses (36.5%).

In Alexander City, a different approach seems to be cutting down on reports of shoplifting. Deputy police chief James Easterwood said police chief Jay Turner recently changed department policy so an officer can arrest a suspect if he or she develops probable cause instead of waiting for a merchant to file charges.

Easterwood said only 20 cases of fourth-degree theft were reported in July, which is about half of what a typical month saw before the change.

Potential thieves should know many businesses in Alexander City will not tolerate shoplifting and will press charges. Many of those businesses also have video surveillance. Walmart, the No. 1 target of shoplifters, aggressively goes after such crimes with special asset forfeiture or loss mitigation teams.

Many shoplifters steal for the thrill of it or to see what they can get away with, but take our advice — it’s not worth it. Most of what is stolen is small but the crime follows a person and can damage his or her reputation for years.