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New NC law sets harsher punishments on some shoplifters

Small business owners tell WCNC Charlotte about their experiences as lawmakers take aim at organized theft.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — The Huntersville Police Department reported at least four shoplifting incidents in November at two Birkdale Village stores: Victoria's Secret and Dick's. But shoplifters may soon start thinking twice more.

A new law that went into effect on December 1 in North Carolina will crack down on some of these criminals. Stricter penalties will be imposed on thieves who steal more than $50,000 of merchandise in a 90-day period. Store owners will also be able to recover their goods quicker and even sue the suspect for damages.

Small business owners told WCNC Charlotte that while shoplifting is a concern, they are protective about their inventory.

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Kate Kazmer is the owner of Poppie's. She set up her monogram and unique gift store 20 years ago and has seen plenty of customers in that time.

“We are always busy. We keep people up at the front and the back and we just try and watch people come in and help them as they come in,” she said.

Kazmer said knowing her regular customer base and her own inventory is helpful.

"We watch inventory. But, I’m one of those owners where I know everything that’s on the shelves, and we can generally spot if there’s a missing hole or anything. But we have not had a problem with [shoplifting]," she said.

Daryl Bryant, the manager of Burners Cigars, also said because of the nature of what they sell, the threat of losing merchandise poses a little less of a risk.

“Unlike other retail shops, this is a little more engaging. A little more personal with the individual," he said. "So you have a little more direct contact with them, you’re more interactive with the product because you’re explaining exactly what they are.”

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Like Kazmer, Bryant also knows his customer base. This helps him ensure nothing is out of place.

"We have a lot of people that are regulars. So they’re kind of creatures of habit," he added. "We know exactly what they’re going to purchase when they go to purchase it."

The owners of Birkdale Village recently invested $20 million in the outdoor mall's renovation, an investment that businesses and patrons said they are interested in keeping protected. That renovation included a skating rink for the holiday season, which is a first for the mall.

Contact Jane Monreal at jmonreal@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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