Shoplifters run risk in judge’s court

A proceeding held during the Christmas shopping season to spotlight the problem of shoplifting in Oconee County was not just for show, according to the jurist who presided. Magistrate Blake Norton admits that the problem of shoplifting worsens at Christmas time, but it’s a continual problem that frustrates law enforcement officers and makes store owners more determined than ever to stop. One court officer told 96.3/WGOG NEWS that, in at least one large Oconee County store, shoplifters would think twice if they knew the sophistication of the camera system recording their moves. And Magistrate Norton says he takes into account the numbers of those charged, as well as the circumstances of their crimes, when he decides whether the shoplifters get off with a fine or whether they go to jail. In a proceeding witnessed by reporters, shoplifters were given the chance of paying $2,100 fines. When the shoplifters couldn’t come up with their fine money right away, they went to jail.