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New program seeks to make shoplifters serve full sentence - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

New program seeks to make shoplifters serve full sentence

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PUEBLO -

Pueblo native Rich Lane has watched his business, Seabel's, go through some big changes since 1989--everything from rebranding to bouncing back from a nearby explosion.

"We were shut down for 67 days because it blew out all of our windows.  We lost all of the merchandise," Lane recalled.

But one change he would like to see is the number of shoplifters coming through his boutique.

"It's a financial blow to us, but it also makes you think 'what's next' if there is a next.  Is there going to be a violent attack?"

And his losses just in the last year...

"It's in the thousands of dollars--of what we know," he said.

Lane meets once a month with other merchants at the Pueblo Police station, to discuss issues they're encountering, and says shoplifting keeps popping up at the top of the list.

"As a city, it's getting worse."

That may have something to do with Pueblo County's overcrowded jail. 
 
It's not unusual for capacity to be at 150% on the weekend and when that happens, repeat larceny offenders are often released prior to finishing their jail sentences. 

"So they know the consequences are probably 'zero.'  They go there, they get booked, they pay a fine or bond to get out, and they're out on the streets again," said Lane.

But this week, city council approved a new pilot program that will require repeat larceny offenders--coming out of Municipal Court--to complete their entire sentence northwest of Pueblo County, in the Park County Jail.

It gives small business owners like Lane a little piece of mind.

"Rather than just booking them and letting them go, we at least know they're going to be off the streets for a period of time"

It will cost $45 per inmate, per day and will come out of the police budget--specifically for incarceration.

Park County has agreed to take up to 10 inmates at any given time.

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