More than 30 shoplifters arrested during holidays

by Wes Mayer

With Christmas now officially behind us, it also means an end of sorts to the holiday shoplifting season.

From Nov. 18 to Dec. 29, the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office responded to 11 separate shoplifting incidents, said Sgt. John Kennedy with the sheriff’s office’s criminal investigations division. Nine of those incidents were cleared by arrests and the other two are being investigated, Kennedy said.

Newnan had many more arrests during the holiday period. According to arrest reports, from Nov. 18 to Christmas, a total of 23 shoplifters were arrested by Newnan Police officers. Looking in Coweta County jail booking records, from Christmas to Dec. 30, six more shoplifters have been arrested by the Newnan Police Department.

“Shoplifting is a problem all times of the year,” said Deputy Chief Rodney Riggs with the Newnan Police Department. “You see it more around Christmas, and it increases the prices of the things we buy.” Because more shopping centers are within the city limits, the Newnan Police Department arrests more shoplifters, he added. “We can’t predict human behavior,” said Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager. “They think they need it or want it, and they don’t want to pay for it.”

Although there have been more than 30 shoplifting arrests since mid-November, probably twice or three times as many thefts go unnoticed, Yeager said. He said he sees more shoplifting this time of year, but he expects it to continue after the holidays.

“People need to think about the consequences of shoplifting,” Yeager said. “A criminal charge will go on your record, and it will follow you for the rest of your life. I have seen people do prison time over shoplifting. I’ve seen the judge sentence them because it is the same people doing the same thing.”

Those arrested for shoplifting in Georgia can either face misdemeanor charges or felonies. According to legal websites, a misdemeanor shoplifting charge is filed for a theft of goods worth less than $500. With any shoplifting theft of goods costing more that $500, shoplifting three or more stores within seven days or if arrested for a fourth shoplifting offense, the charge becomes a felony. A felony shoplifting offense can result in a sentence of one to 10 years.

Yeager said many shoplifters arrested already will have two or three shoplifting charges on their record.

“That ought to show you that you’re pretty bad at shoplifting,” Yeager said. “Some people don’t pick up on the clues.”

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