A great deal of money is spent every week at the Fayette Pavilion shopping complex, but quite a few people try to get their goods from there without paying for them.
A review of Fayetteville Police Department reports over a seven-day span ending April 12 showed 15 shoplifting or theft-related incidents in that complex.
At the Walmart Supercenter alone there were five shoplifting arrests as well as one for financial transaction card fraud and a felony charge for theft of lost or mislaid property.
Burlington Coat Factory was the site of an arrest for theft by taking and another for felony shoplifting. Lenscrafters also had a felony shoplifting arrest. Whenever the total value of items stolen is $500 or greater, the shoplifting charge is upgraded from misdemeanor to felony.
Big Lots and Old Navy were victimized by misdemeanor shoplifters taken into custody by police, according to the past week’s reports.
In addition to just walking out with stolen items, some so-called customers try to pay for them with credit cards or checks that do not belong to them. Hobby Lobby had one such customer arrested for forgery in the first degree, in addition to the aforementioned Walmart card fraud incident.
A Fayetteville police spokesman credited the stores – specifically Walmart, the nation’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer – with being vigilant in their battle against thieves. It often begins at the popular self checkout aisle.
“They scan the cheaper items, and they try to act like they’re scanning the other ones but they don’t,” said Lt. Mike Francis. “When you try to do something like that, they’re going to catch you.”
Technology also plays a role, as large retailers in particular keep an eye on every inch of space where customers might attempt to pilfer items without paying.
“They have cameras everywhere,” said Francis about Walmart. “They have security people. I give them credit. They watch people’s movements, and they can tell when something is being scanned and when it’s not.”
Some jurisdictions around the country have a $950 or $1,000 threshold that must be reached before shoplifting is considered a felony. This has led to numerous reports on social media and some mainstream news outlets of people brazenly walking into stores and taking whatever they like, with employees looking on but taking no action. Many stores in other American cities have closed their doors because they claim they cannot make a profit under such conditions.
That is not the case in Fayette County. In addition to a lower felony threshold for shoplifters, local law enforcement does not turn a blind eye to these activities. Reports from other law enforcement agencies in the county have routine notices of shoplifting arrests.
“In certain situations we will cut you a citation and you have to go back to court at another date,” said Francis. “One way or another – you’re not just going to get warned and let go. You’re going to at least receive a citation if not take a trip to the county jail.”