Shoplifting on the rise in Ocean Springs

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The holiday season seems to be bringing in more than just good cheer this year.

Ocean Springs Police say they've seen a dramatic rise in shoplifting in the past few weeks.

They say this time of year normally brings out more shop lifters, but with the current economic crunch, they've had way more calls from stores than usual.

Police say no matter how small the theft is they take the crime very seriously and will give jail time whenever they can.

Sargent Calvin Robertson of the Ocean Springs Police Department says, "we here lately have had a problem with shoplifting due to the upcoming holiday season."

Ocean Springs police are cracking down on a recent rash of shop lifters. They arrested 66 year old Beverly Wilson of Gautier and 60 year old Lynda Bell of Moss Point at Wal Mart last week after they allegedly stole two bracelets and a watch. They also arrested 2 teenagers at Wal Mart and a 14 year old girl was picked up after trying to steal from the Ocean Springs Dollar Store. Police say it seems to be the big chains that have the most reports of shoplifting.

He says, "There's more people in the bigger stores, so it's kind of harder to spot."

Small mom and pop shops like Miner's Toy Store in downtown Ocean Springs, say they haven't had any problems with missing merchandise.

Maryalice Miner of Miner's Toy Store says, "We haven't had any trouble we're pretty well protected, we have cameras and there's usually enough of us here to keep track of things plus I have a couple of dogs and that helps."

Right next door to Miner's Toys is "Stilettos", they sell upscale shoes and accessories. They also say they have had no problems in their boutique this year.

Police say it really does seem to be the larger, less expensive stores where shop lifters operate. But no matter how small the theft, they take every case very seriously and will press charges to the fullest extent of the law.

Robertson, "If you get a first and second shoplifting it's going to be a misdemeanor, if you get a third, it can be enhanced to a felony, which you can spend some time in the state penitentiary".

Police want to remind the public that shoplifting makes prices go up in stores and bogs down the court system. They say if you see any suspicious activity in a store, call the police immediately.