Why it was easy for the alleged suspects in video of brazen theft at the Mall of Louisiana

Updated: Sep. 18, 2019 at 7:50 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - After the viral video showing a group of people apparently just walking out of a store in the Mall of Louisiana allegedly without paying for an arm full of clothes, plenty of people wondered, why did nobody stop them?

People who work or own stores in the mall tell us that other than calling mall security--which they say is often slow-- there’s not much they can really do.

Alec Vautrot, who works at Gameware in the mall, says most of their merchandise is locked up, but he says one time he didn’t follow company policy and chased after someone he thought was trying to steal.

"The one that I had, I had to chase down, which I was actually [told] not to do, but it was $200 worth of product that would’ve gone out the door and if it wasn’t for me it would’ve went out,” Vautrot said. He said the owner didn’t want him to chase after the alleged thief but said the owner was happy nothing was stolen.

“We have a security team that we call but after that, they're already in the parking lot by that point and possibly already in their car and already out of here,” Vautrot said.

A mall store owner who asked to stay anonymous, says that even though her store has cameras all over, she’s still limited in what she can do to stop a would-be thief.

“I'm older, I’m past my 60’s, so I can't take being knocked down or hurt. I have health conditions and I can't chance being hurt,” she said.

The owner added that its hard to find people to work in retail stores now and incidents like this are part of why people would rather shop online.

She says thieves are gutsier now too and take advantage of courtesies. “Parents put [merchandise] in their child’s basket, their stroller, and you can’t touch that stroller unless you have their permission.”

She adds that it’s not worth trying to stop a shoplifter in case they aren’t stealing. “If you’re wrong and you can’t prove absolutely positive that they stole something they could sue you and I don’t want to lose my home and all over it.”

These are the penalties for thefts, according to the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s office:

Amount stolenClassPossible penalty
$25,000+FelonyUp to 20 years
$5,000+FelonyUp to 10 years
$1,000+FelonyUp to 5 years
Less than $1,000MisdemeanorUp to 6 months

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said he hopes the publicity of this case is enough to be a deterrent and if that’s not enough, maybe the possible penalties for working together could be.

“I think we have to look at how we’ll connect these people together if they’re even connected. Do they have a scheme? Are they working together? And can we aggregate those cases to make it a felony case, not a misdemeanor case?” Moore questioned.

No arrests have been made in the case as of Sept.17. It’s unclear if an arrest is made whether the alleged suspects would be charged by the items taken by the group, or individually.

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