Myrtle Beach store gets rare recovery of shoplifted items

Shoplifting is common this time of year, but it's rare for a store to recover all of its stolen items after a big loss.

It did happen this week at the Lazy Gator Gift Shop in Myrtle Beach.

The store's owner says thieves mostly went after designer items, like Vera Bradley backpacks and Spartina handbags.

Store employees knew things were missing, but owner Michael Callahan says they didn't realize the extent of it until a suspect was stopped in North Carolina for an unrelated shoplifting case and police found Lazy Gator tagged items in the suspect's car.

The theft amounted to $1,500 worth, Callahan says the rule of thumb is that it takes $100 to replace each one dollar's worth of merchandise that's stolen, so:

"$15,000 in additional sales in order to make up for that loss," Callahan said.

This time, the store got lucky. It didn't lose anything and a suspect was arrested, but that's rare.

"Statistically, it's about 10 percent of the time," he said.

Callahan, who's also a retail management consultant, says shoplifting puts a $13 billion hit on retailing nationwide and it hurts everybody.

"The retail statistic is that it adds 30 percent of the cost to all consumer goods, based on internal and external theft."

Apparently, these same thieves hit other Market Common stores, too. They were identified by a surveillance camera in one of them.

Cameras and radio frequency tags help deter theft, he says, but well-trained employees who know how to spot suspicious behavior are the best way to stop it.

Still, he says there's a fine line between tagging the bad shoppers and making the good shoppers feel uncomfortable. Callahan says, theft will never be eliminated.

"It's just a part of us doing business, that you have to be prepared to absorb those costs unfortunately."

He says he doesn't believe the suspects who hit his store were part of a shoplifting ring, but they sort of acted like professionals. It appeared they planned to sell what they stole.