Legislators look to toughen shoplifting penalties

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It's a crime that bleeds thousands of dollars out of South Carolina retail businesses every year, and legislators are now responding to an increase in professional shoplifting rings by carving out more comprehensive theft laws and penalties.

Part of the problem is South Carolina has some of the most lenient felony theft thresholds in the southeast.

According to the South Carolina Retailers Association, a person would have to steal $2,000 worth of merchandise before being charged with a felony.

Under a proposed Senate bill, prosecutors would be able to charge multiple shoplifting acts in different counties into one count, raising the possible prison sentence to a maximum of 10 years. It's a step towards dismantling shoplifting rings that are drawn into South Carolina because of our lenient theft penalties.

"The Walgreens representative for four counties in Upstate said her chain loses up to $30,000 a month to organized retail crime. And it's similar with big box stores," said Retailers Association representative Jack West.

A companion bill passed the State House last week with no opposition.

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