CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A string of Corpus Christi stores are seeing an unusual surge in shoplifting. The owner of the stores said sometimes it’s one person, sometimes it’s a group, but it’s people of all ages.
“This is just the known incidents that happen. I don’t know, God knows, how many unknown incidents have happened,” said Peter Patel.
Patel owns QC Meat Market, Prescott Meat Market, Hi Ho Convenience Store, Baldwin Food Mart, and Norton Food Mart.
Owning five local grocery stores has been quite the upkeep for Patel. Now he's paying more attention to his security cameras. Lately, he's seen more and more thefts and how people are doing it.
“Mostly they are getting expensive items," he said. "Detergent for example. I have one knife display and it’s happened twice, same persons, picking up in front of all the employees and just walking out.”
Patel has videos of people picking up items near the door and leaving. Other videos depict people stuffing cleaning supplies in their pants. One video even showed a man with an armful of cases of beer, walking out very calmly.
Thefts have ranged from lottery tickets to hundreds of dollars in meat.
"They come with a group. Almost $700-$800 worth of meat. They put it inside and gone!" Patel exclaimed.
Patel said it’s been hard for employees to stop the alleged thieves. Sometimes these people will target a time when a woman might be working and intimidate her and threaten to overpower her. If a man is working, weapons would be drawn.
“I was there and I saw this one guy. He was walking out with the stuff. I stopped him and he pulled, out the knife (...) so I let him go," said Patel.
He added that those things are happening often and said it's not worth the risk.
He believes it’s happening for a number of reasons from young people doing it for the thrill, or older people stealing to then selling the things to get cash.
Patel is lo for a solution to stop all the thefts.
It’s causing a backlash to the customers who face increased prices to make up for losses.
Patel often has been asked why he doesn't have a security system (besides the cameras)?
But being a small business and not a large chain, the cost for one for all five stores has been out of his range. If he does purchase one, again, his prices would have to go up.
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