Stop Shoplifting Program

Shoplifting is a crime that may seem victimless, but prosecutors and police say it's not. By taking an item from a store you may not realize what it costs your community.

The Better Business Bureau reports businesses lose an estimated 16 billion dollars each year due to shoplifting and each family in the U.S. spends $300 a year to subsidize what shoplifters take.

Now area organizations and businesses are teaming up to deter the bandits.

To help reduce shoplifting the Bowling Green Police Department, Warren County Attorney's Office, and the Better Business Bureau have teamed up to battle the issue.

The President of the Kentucky Chapter of the Better Business Bureau, Charles Mattingly, says: "The goal is to deter them and keep them from engaging in this crime in the future."

First time offenders now have the option of pleading guilty, attending a three-hour diversion program, performing community service, and paying a fine.

Warren County Attorney, Amy Milliken, says if someone attends the class and doesn't have any other offenses one year from the guilty plea, the shoplifting charge will be dismissed.

If they don't they'll have charges pressed against them.

There's also an embarrassment factor associated with the crime and Milliken says she hopes that deters people.

She says: "Sometimes coming into a large courtroom with 300 other people you're not going to see someone, but in a small classroom setting you'll be sitting beside someone you go to church with or you work with."

The class looks at three issues: the retail side, the law involved with shoplifting, and the psychological aspects.

Mattingly says: "A lot of shoplifters are doing it because they are clinically depressed and get a thrill from doing it."

Mattingly says for now the classes will be held quarterly. However, that may change depending on the need.

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