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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – The global recession isn’t just making jobs scarce and tightening spending, it’s also turning more people into thieves. Some of our local businesses are taking notice and doing something about it.

It’s a multi billion dollar problem here in the U.S. and Mississippi isn’t immune to the statistics. Shoplifting, it’s on the rise and it’s hurting our local businesses.

Columbus Police Chief Sylvain McQueen says, “We’re going to start airing some of the footage and showing the on video a lot of the individuals that are stealing.”

WCBI News has video of a Columbus man who not once but twice entered the Sunflower Grocery Store in January and stole hundreds of dollars of steaks. Shoplifting is on the rise and many are attributing that to a sluggish economy. For Columbus Police it’s a statistic they are committed to lowering.

Sunflower Owner Steve Townsend says, “We’ve got some that just come in the store not intending to shop. They just come by and scoop up all the steaks in the case.”

But it’s not just steaks and meat the crooks are after. Much of the thefts include merchandise and cosmetics, anything small enough to fit in someones jacket or pants. Shoplifting is costing merchants a total of 8.1% on their bottom line.

It’s costing thousands of dollars and the cases are on the rise. But with modern technology and surveilence systems crooks should be the ones on the look out.

Townsend says, “The more theft there is the more everybody pays for groceries and general merchandise.”

And with over 30 cameras in place the Townsends are making an investment. After all, to recoup the loss prices must go up. So the thefts end up costing everyone involved. Columbus Police Chief Sylvain McQueen wants to shine the light on all thieves and has a message for area businesses.

McQueen says, “They need to bring the video to the CPD so we can get with WCBI and get it aired. So we can get the individuals identified, arrested and in court.”

Police tell WCBI News what is happening with a lot of the stolen items is they are being sold on the street at a much cheaper cost. With food cost on the rise steaks and other meats are hot items.

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