Holidays Bring Possible Shoplifters to Small Stores

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Downtown Prattville has no shortage of small businesses. With an increase of customers during the holiday season, many store owners are trying to make sure they do not fall victim to shoplifters.

Stephen Brooks is the co-owner of Carol Brooks Home and Holiday Shoppe in downtown Prattville. He says his small store thrives during the holiday season, but having shoplifters come into his store is almost like ruining Christmas.

“My loss is going to be significant there. That’s a substantial amount of money that goes out the door,” Brooks says about the crime.

Brooks and his workers have a system in place to deter shoplifters. It starts and ends with great customer service.

“One of the things we like to do is, we like to greet you when you come in, then we will make at least two contacts with you while you’re in the shop, to see if we can help you on any of the areas,” Brooks says.

Officers say the method Brooks practices is sometimes the best tool when it comes to stopping shoplifters.

“When someone comes in, that’s new, they need to give that person great customer service,” says Executive Director of CrimeStoppers, Tony Garrett. “At the bare minimum, you just made a friend for the rest of your life. If not, that person who’s wanted to steal, they’re gonna be upset.”

The idea is that once you speak to and become friendly with a potential shoplifter, the criminal feels exposed and no longer wants to commit the crime. Brooks says if any criminal still feels bold enough to come into his store, he always knows what to do.

“If I do identify a shoplifter, then I’m gonna be on 911 right away. We’re just a block and a half away from the police department itself, and I will call the authorities. And we will prosecute, if there is shoplifting and should we actually catch them.”

Garrett says any small business worried about what to look out for can call the local police department. The officers will give tips to stop shoplifters, teach owners how to file reports and let them know what to look for when checking the store for thieves.

He adds that police have increased patrols, especially in busy shopping areas. He says that if there are no visible officers around, that does not mean they are not there.

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