Rensselaer County DA will begin prosecuting thefts at Walmart stores again

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Shoplifters won’t be able to get away that easy at some local Walmart stores, even if they only commit petit crimes.

In the past, people who stole a bottle of water from the Walmart in Brunswick may have been able to get away with it. That may not be the case anymore.

“Stealing is wrong, period,” Nora Porter, a Poestenkill resident, said.

Porter was surprised to learn there was a practice of not prosecuting some shoplifters at Walmart stores in Rensselaer County if they stole merchandise worth $100 or less.

“Stealing and shoplifting is a huge loss to business. They should be held accountable.”

Angela Fowler agrees.

“I think there should be some penalty because stealing is stealing.”

This is changing. District Attorney Joel Abelove says “following consultation with law enforcement, including the sheriff, i have rescinded the agreement regarding thefts at Walmart stores in Brunswick and East Greenbush.”

From now on when these stores file complaints about thefts, police will be able to make arrests no matter the price tag.

Abelove believed the initial policy would decrease overcrowding in courts and jails, especially for non-violent offenders but police had concerns.

“I understand the court systems are backed-up but if what they’re doing is wrong they need to somehow let that be known to them,” Porter said.

The DA says over the next months, his office will work with police and Walmart to reduce overcrowding.

Porter and Fowler feel this is what’s fair by placing all shoplifting on a more even playing field.

“I’m a hard worker and if I’ve got to go spend my money, you should be able to go spend yours,” Fowler said.

So no crime goes unpunished.

“I think if people were held accountable they’d get the idea that it’s wrong and wouldn’t do it,” Porter said.

NEWS10 ABC reached out to Walmart for comment but have not heard back at this time.

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