Mississippi amends shoplifting law, making it easier to prosecute accomplices

Mississippi amends shoplifting law, making it easier to prosecute accomplices

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Mississippi is changing laws that hold people accountable for shoplifting. And it impacts more than just the people stealing the items.

Byram police see a lot of shoplifting happening so close to the highway.

“In a lot of cases where we have accomplices, it’s a little more difficult to charge them because you have to try to prove they were doing this or that,” Lt. Maurice Kendrick said.

State law changed July 1, making it easier to bill more than just the person picking up the items.

“Now if they’re there, if they’re lying in wait, if they’re driving or if they’re doing anything like that, we can now charge them as accessories,” Kendrick said. “And they’ll also be arrested if the amount is over $1,000 or if the third defense on their side is considered a felony.”

Greg Hill, Vowell’s store manager, says the consequences of the theft are greater than people think.

“This is a major issue when it comes to controlling the cost of goods,” Hill says. “It can also limit what you can carry, as some companies may decide not to carry high-end merchandise because of the risk of theft, and therefore eliminate that possibility altogether.”

In this store, meat and medicines are the main targets of theft.

“It’s there, and you have to deal with it, some you’ll catch and some you won’t,” Hill added.

But police say they are pleased to see changes that make it easier to hold everyone involved accountable.

“I call it a triangle effect, an inverted triangle effect,” Kendrick said.

“They start small and if they continue, they open up more and more to other activities. I think shoplifting can be considered a basic crime, but they will become more courageous and then the crimes will become more and more numerous and dangerous.”

The changes to the law also simplify the requirements for a judge to make a sentencing order. They also specify that a person convicted of a second shoplifting offence will be imprisoned for at least two days.

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