D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - This week in Jackson County, two women were arrested for stealing more than $3,200 worth of items at the Moss Point Cracker Barrel. Police arrested Lucedale residents Lucia Sanborn and Karen Smith.
The upswing in thefts has South Mississippi law enforcement on alert, especially D'Iberville Police with the new Promenade now built.
Jeannine Schexnayder manages Watermelon Patch in the D'Iberville Shopping center. She said it's surprising how many shoplifters try to take stuff from the store.
"We have seen a far amount of shrinkage and theft. We cannot keep enough people in the store to watch and keep it under control," Schexnayder said.
Schexnayder blames the rise in retail theft on the crumbling economy.
"When they don't have money for Christmas gifts and things, they will resort to do things to make sure their little ones get things for Christmas."
D'Iberville Police Captain Keith Davis agrees the lack of cash is a driving factor.
"The economy is in bad state right now, and people are getting desperate. The more desperate they get, the more we see shoplifting," Captain Davis said.
Davis said police will have zero tolerance for shoplifting, and the department has a plan in place to combat the problem. The plan is called "Cop and Shop." Police said it helps puts more eyes in shops and more police cars in the area.
"We are putting plain clothes police officers in the stores, and they are walking around the stores looking for shoplifters," Davis said. "We are also increasing our patrols in the parking lots as a deterrent measure."
Davis said so far there has not been a large volume of shoplifting calls at the center. He said part of the reason is all the stores also have a unified security plan.
"If someone goes into Target and gets involved in criminal activity, Target will call Dick's Sporting Goods, and Dick Sporting Goods will call Marshalls, so that is a great partnership with these merchants."
The extra protection is welcomed by Schexnayder because she feels shoplifting is a costly crime.
"It is taking money out of the pocket of the owner. It takes money out of the pocket of the workers, and it increases the tag on what I have to sale. The bottom line is everybody pays more in the long run."