Many South Carolina residents might agree that crimes related to shoplifting pale in comparison to more serious offenses. Nevertheless, those caught stealing often face serious repercussions. One point of debate surrounding shoplifting involves the penalties that come with them — have they been too strict in the past?
The Pew Charitable Trusts delves into the topic of shoplifting in South Carolina, and what some lawmakers have done about the severe penalties attached to these nonviolent crimes. In 2010, South Carolina increased its threshold in regard to felony theft and made changes to its penalties surrounding property crimes. While some are quick to criticize these modifications, The Pew points out that they have freed up space in prisons for inmates convicted of more serious crimes. Changes were also necessary in order to keep up with inflation and the value of stolen products. The Pew refers to an April 2017 study, which showed that the widened threshold did not result in increased incidents of theft.
Another concern regarding shoplifting in the state involves the time law enforcement dedicates to the crimes themselves. According to The State, South Carolina has seen a surge in the number of shoplifting arrests at various Walmarts statewide. The State stresses that this recent increase in calls has detracted police from other, potentially more severe offenses. In one town outside Columbia, shoplifting calls from Walmart make up roughly 14 percent of all police calls. The billion-dollar retail giant has announced new plans to combat theft, called “More at the Door,” in which there would exist a closer employee presence at entrances. Shoplifting is a crime that can come with serious costs, but it appears that there is a a general disagreement over aspects regarding proper penalties.