Shoplifters opt for sign-carrying sentence

(Source: Vidalia Police Department)
(Source: Vidalia Police Department)

By Dal Cannady - bio | email

VIDALIA, GA (WTOC) - Four young adults convicted of misdemeanor shoplifting began "carrying" out a unique sentence Saturday in Vidalia. The wore signs of "I was convicted of shoplifting in Vidalia, Georgia" and walked back and forth in a park next to U.S. Highway 280. The sight stopped more than a few Vidalia drivers in their tracks.

"We had gawkers. A couple of people got out of their cars and clapped," said Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits.

Vidalia's city court judge gave the four adults the option to carry the signs Judge Malcolm Bryant said he wanted something more severe than community service alone. They must also write an essay for the judge on shoplifting and perform 40 hours of community service.

The sign sits well with many.

"I think it's great because it would cut down on the people stealing so much, I really do," said John Jackson of Vidalia.

"I hope it works," said Gayle Wheeler. "I couldn't shop in Vidalia if I did that. I'd have to go out of town to shop."

"I think we should see more of it. It puts them on the spot and lets people see their face," added Donna Boroweic.

One man wasn't impressed with the idea, but certainly didn't think it was too cruel or tough.

"I feel like jail time would be better, more punishment," said Aaron Turner. " If they're not ashamed to steal, this won't bother them."

But Waits says the signs are cheaper than jail time and less anonymous too.

"They could quietly serve jail time and their friends might never know," Waits said. "Out there, everybody in Vidalia rides by there at least once a day."

Following the judge's instructions could keep the shoplifting charge off a young adult's criminal record.

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