Myrtle Beach police officers were called to Coastal Grand Mall more times in November than in the last four months, and a number of those calls are for shoplifting.
Shoplifting also increased each weekend through the month at the mall with Black Friday having the most police presence, according to Myrtle Beach Police Department’s online records.
“This time of year we bring some units out to this section of the city,” MBPD Detective Paul Morrell told The Sun News during an interview at Coastal Grand. “There isn’t a draw or demand for services on the waterfront.”
Morrell said the activity moves from Ocean Boulevard in the summer to other areas, including around the mall, in the fall and winter seasons. And with that, police units shift around to where the high-traffic areas are within the city.
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Coastal Grand has a higher amount of shoplifting statistics because there are numerous stores, Morrell said. Shoplifting is not just happening around the holiday season, he said. It’s something that happens throughout the year and it’s not unique to Coastal Grand.
|Month||Calls for service to Coastal Grand Mall|
During Black Friday weekend, there were at least six shoplifting arrests at the mall, compared to one shoplifting arrest the first weekend of November.
Belk and Dillard’s are the stores hit most often, online records show.
Though shoplifting reports are frequent, it’s not the only reason Myrtle Beach police go to Coastal Grand. This month, officers have responded for reports of a stolen vehicle, assault and a purse stolen in the food court.
Morrell said each shoplifting incident is handled on a case-by-case basis because there is more than one reason why people steal.
“Everyone has a different story,” he said. “They’re in a pinch and want to get that gift for their child. Others do it for profit and sell it.”
When asked about the increase in shoplifting this month, Coastal Grand Mall Marketing Director Tori Dean referred The Sun News to the police department for comment.
Dean said the mall does have a code of conduct posted at all mall entrances and online. Any illegal activity is a violation of the code of conduct and is handled by police, she said.
“We would advise customers that if they see any suspicious or illegal activity, to contact local law enforcement,” Dean told The Sun News via email.
If you see something suspicious, report it, Morrell said, adding the community’s safety is a shared responsibility.
“We can’t be at all places at all times,” Morrell said. “If you see something, say something.”
It’s important, he said, to lock car doors, especially if gifts are inside, and be aware of your surroundings in parking lots.
Morrell said that if you are thinking about shoplifting, just don’t do it. Being caught shoplifting the first time is a misdemeanor, but becomes more serious each time a person is charged and is referred to as “shoplifting enhancement.”
“If we have the probable cause to make an arrest, you will go to jail in the city of Myrtle Beach,” he said.
Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765, @HannahLStrong