Lawmakers considering changes to Alabama's shoplifting laws

WAAY 31 talked with small business owners about what's at stake for them if either of the two bills pass.

Posted: Apr 30, 2019 4:01 PM
Updated: Apr 30, 2019 5:08 PM

Lawmakers are considering changes to Alabama's shoplifting laws.

They're looking at dueling bills right now. One would significantly broaden the definition of shoplifting. Another would allow police to arrest suspects in the store before they walk outside.

WAAY 31 talked with some small business owners about what's at stake for them.

“It all happened in the fitting room," Denise McNeill said. "We were able to pull the footage, but she stole nearly $400 worth.”

Denise McNeill has been running Indigo's Boutique for five years. She says shoplifters come in all shapes and sizes.

“I did have one lady who pulled up in a Mercedez," McNeill said. "So, it’s people that you would not expect at all.”

McNeill told WAAY 31 any case of shoplifting is a big blow to her livelihood.

“It’s devastating to small business owners," she said. "This is my only income.”

And McNeill said there have been other cases.

“We literally stood at the door and we asked, ‘Would you like to pay for the pair of earrings that you slipped in your purse?’ And she simply stated, ‘I’ll put them back,’” McNeill said.

So, when McNeill heard Alabama lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow police to make arrests in store, she was thrilled, saying it would save her time and money.

Right now, the threshold for shoplifting in Alabama is $500. A separate bill would raise that nearly 400% to $2,500.

The bill's sponsor says it will help with prison overcrowding, but McNeill sees it hurting her business.

“If an individual knows that they can come in and get away with more items, and only receive the small punishment, why would they not?”

If that particular bill passes, McNeill says she’ll have to become more cautious, and make sure more eyes are on customers.

“I’m still in the development of my business and not taking a lot of money home, which means now I’ll take less money home, because I’m going to have to pay another employee," she said.

WAAY 31 reached out to the Alabama Retail Association for a comment. They told us they support the bill where shoplifting arrests can be made in store, but they fear raising the threshold will harm retailers.

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CountyCasesDeaths
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Mobile41295809
Madison35175506
Tuscaloosa25932455
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Montgomery24736593
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Walker7261278
Autauga7010108
Jackson6840112
Blount6776139
Colbert6322135
Coffee5583118
Dale4878113
Russell445938
Chilton4383113
Franklin426382
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia395177
Chambers3598123
Dallas3569153
Clarke351561
Marion3140101
Pike312077
Lawrence303698
Winston275873
Bibb264864
Geneva254178
Marengo249865
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale224078
Butler219069
Fayette213162
Henry190043
Cherokee184845
Randolph182542
Monroe178241
Washington167839
Macon161350
Clay157257
Crenshaw153657
Cleburne149641
Lamar143336
Lowndes140753
Wilcox127430
Bullock123342
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter105032
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 858355

Reported Deaths: 12327
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby967281638
Davidson89777942
Knox51190637
Hamilton44647496
Rutherford43278437
Williamson28148217
Sumner24170349
Montgomery20475228
Wilson18929236
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Sullivan16994300
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Blount15582196
Bradley15123151
Washington14713245
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Sevier13464176
Putnam11444175
Madison11292241
Robertson9810132
Anderson8810171
Hamblen8633173
Greene7936156
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Coffee6925123
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Cumberland6775133
Carter6671158
Gibson6559146
McMinn655998
Bedford6528129
Roane6327105
Jefferson6249125
Hawkins6188107
Loudon617169
Lawrence599191
Monroe588796
Warren556481
Dyer5445106
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Cheatham458456
Obion455596
Cocke452699
Lincoln437163
Rhea436375
Marshall420758
Campbell417863
Weakley416965
Giles4014100
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White368970
Carroll363683
Macon363178
Hardin358568
Hardeman354364
Lauderdale321044
Henry320976
Claiborne318973
Scott316045
Marion313147
Overton302561
Wayne296934
Hickman285146
McNairy284454
DeKalb280754
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Grainger263950
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