Port Lavaca police act on increased shoplifting at Wal-Mart

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

March 13, 2013 at 6:05 p.m.
Updated March 13, 2013 at 10:14 p.m.

At least one Port Lavaca business has experienced an increase in shoplifting in the past year.

The latest example came Tuesday when a Port Lavaca man became physical with Wal-Mart employees as he tried to leave the store with a pre-packaged sub-sandwich, an electric saw and a bag of onions without paying for the them, police said.

Christopher Lee Perez, 32, was arrested and charged with theft between $50 and $500 and possession of a controlled substance, or synthetic marijuana, less than 1 gram, Detective Josh Smith said.

Smith said Perez could face assault charges after he reviews the incident on the store's surveillance camera.

Smith said Port Lavaca police have responded to about 133 shoplifting cases at Wal-Mart from March 2012 to March 2013. That's up from 74 shoplifting cases at Wal-Mart during the previous year.

The stolen items range from groceries, toiletries, clothing and large screen TVs.

Smith said the incidents may have occurred because of the lack of security at the store, he said.

"Believe it or not, we've actually had some repeat offenders, some people who go back and do it again," he said.

Smith said he hoped Wal-Mart would start hiring people again to check receipts at the exits.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Kayla Whaling said the store's asset protection team, or loss prevention team, remains vigilant and relies on the guidance of law enforcement to routinely review its security measures.

She said going into too much detail about those policies might jeopardize their work.

"Typically, we check receipts when an item is unbagged," Whaling said.

Most of these thefts would be considered a class A misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to a year in jail with a possible $4,000 fine, Smith said.



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