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Woman calls out shoplifters as frustration boils over: 'This has to stop'

Shoplifting couple
Posted at 11:14 AM, Jan 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-11 13:15:59-05

A Billings woman took action Tuesday night after she said she witnessed a couple shoplifting from the Albertsons on Central Avenue near the underpass.

Amy Burrowes said she was walking into the store to do her routine shopping and ran into the couple, whose cart jammed as they exited the entrance doors of the store, and she noticed none of their items were bagged.

"I was walking in to get some groceries and as I was walking in, they almost ran into me with their cart," Burrowes said. "I could tell none of their items were bagged and the wheels were jammed, and that's when I knew they were stealing."

While Burrowes said she has seen shoplifters in action before, for some reason on Tuesday she chose to step in, rather than stand idly by.

"I'm not sure, I was just honestly tired of seeing it," Burrowes said. "It happens all the time. This has to stop."

Burrowes began capturing pictures of the couple, posting them to Facebook and receiving hundreds of likes and comments overnight. She said part of the reason she made the post was the items they had in their carts.

"They didn't even take stuff that they need," Burrowes said. "They took stuff that they want. Valentine chocolates, Armor All for their car, Pepsi. They didn't have milk and bread and that kind of stuff."

Burrowes' frustration comes at a time when retailers nationwide feel the same. According to a December 2023 report from the National Retail Federation, 83 percent of retailers say retail theft is a major issue.

Other business owners in Billings, like the Harrises who own 2nd Chance Marketplace at 1749 Grand Ave., said they see it constantly.

"We see it at least once a week," Tim Harris said Wednesday afternoon. "It's very disrespectful. It feels like it's spiteful."

Tim and his wife, Megan, run the store in a unique way, where all of their secondhand items come in priced at $16. Each day, the price drops by one dollar until all of the contents in the store are gone.

"We want things to be affordable so that people come back," Tim said. "If it's affordable, then you can buy food and you can buy stuff for your family."

Their unique method is a big reason why shoplifting is so frustrating to them.

"We can't even put some of the things out because we know they'll get stolen," Megan Harris said. "It's really sad. People running out with carts full of stuff. Our prices are low and we also work with people."

As for the theft at Albertsons, the store is looking into it, but typically, there is very little employees can do in the moment. According to a statement from Albertsons spokesperson Kathy Holland, "Our policies strongly discourage associates from confronting anyone suspected of shoplifitng and only associates who have undergone de-escalation training should intervene."

But on Tuesday, the frustrations boiled over for Burrowes and she chose to act, fearing what this problem will turn into if something doesn't change.

"Why do we all have to pay for groceries and they don't?" Burrowes said. "Something has to be done with them, or else it's just going to get worse.