SOMERSET, Ky. (WKYT) - It’s not just the impulse thief…stealing this or that from the local grocery store.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a mother bring her kid into the store and she hides things under the baby carriage,” said Pulaski County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney David Dalton.
One example of what prosecutors are calling ‘professional shoplifters.’
“We started looking at court cases, seeing someone would hit K-mart, then Kroger, then they would hit Wal- Mart,” said Dalton.
The problem is so bad that prosecutors say a lot of it can be labled as organized crime. One case working through the Pulaski County system, deals with a pair accused of stealing stuff from a bunch of stores simply to sell it elsewhere.
Police say Shannon Dale Williamson and Kevin Lee Williamson stole tools to re-sell them. Paul’s Discount caught a shoplifter on Saturday its manager believes was doing something similar.
“She walked around a little bit to make sure no one was watching but we knew what she was doing,” said Joe Neikirk with Paul’s Discount.
The Pulaski County commonwealth’s attorney and county attorney have launched Project Shop Loss to target the groups they believe are causing the most problems.
“It is a profession. And If they want to be professional shoplifters, we’ll treat them like professional thieves,” said Dalton.
Officials say everyone pays for crime because retailers pass on what they lose to consumers.
“It may be it 10 cents more on the bag of Doritos or 20 cents more on milk,” said Dalton.
“Theft costs everyone. Retailers have to raise margins to cover it,” said Neikirk.
Prosecutors say the collaboration will help them identify repeat offenders in attempts to convince judges to hand out the maximum penalties possible at sentencing.