A grocery store cashier has been charged with retail theft under Alabama’s new retail theft legislation, which went into effect on September 1st. It aims to discourage the crime that cost Alabama retailers $1.2 billion last year, according to Capitol One data.
According to Mobile Police, cashiers at the Navco Road Piggly Wiggly were putting on a show for the CCTV cameras by pretending to scan things but not pay for them.
“Two cashiers sliding for each other,” owner Kamal Constantine explained. “That means not charging on the register.”
Stephanie Hawthorne, 30, was arrested after store management noticed what was going on and charged her with organized retail theft. According to police, the second unidentified cashier fled.
“We have management that looks at our cameras all the time,” Constantine explained.
Constantine demonstrated how his 15 Piggly Wiggly stores keep an eye on everything from his new facility on University Blvd., which he intends to open this week.
“We have cameras in all of our stores, and we can see everything that happens,” Constantine added.
“It’s a big problem,” said Nancy Dennis, Public Relations Director for the Alabama Retail Association.
According to Dennis, Alabama’s new Retail Theft Crime Prevention Act targets the problem. The new regulation allows businesses to sign warrants without leaving their premises and sentences thieves to actual jail time.
“You may have a group of people who come into say, a shopping center,” said Dennis. “And they’ll go to everybody in the shopping center. And they’ll steal a little bit here and a little bit there. They would stay under the radar as far as amounts. But what this law does, too, is it allows those amounts to be aggregated. And so once you aggregate those amounts together, then you’re going to end up with a felony charge instead of just a misdemeanor charge,” said Dennis.
According to Dennis, the rule targets unseen thieves who eat into retailers’ earnings, making products more expensive for consumers.
Crimes cost the state money as well. According to Capital One, Alabama lost $48 million in sales tax due to theft last year.
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