Lief Stiles owns a baby and toddler boutique in the West End.
“We are where southern sweet meets Paris chic,” she said.
Stiles has cameras, motion detectors and employees all around her store 1Z2Z3Z, but she said things can still slip through the cracks.
“It’s always scary when we do our inventory every season to find the shrinkage, which is the retail term for missing items,” said Stiles.
That’s why she’s not keen on a proposal to raise Virginia’s felony larceny threshold.
“The only thing we really have working for us, besides the cameras, is the fear of getting in trouble with the law,” she said. “So if we make that a little more lax, it’s only a better incentive for people that have that kind of bad habit to act out.”
But that’s exactly what Del. Joseph Lindsey (D-Norfolk) wants to do.
“This is something that has to change,” Lindsey said at a news conference Thursday.
Lindsey introduced a bill that would increase Virginia’s larceny threshold from $200 to $500.
It hasn’t been changed in nearly 40 years.
“Two hundred dollars might have been okay in 1980 when a gallon of gas was 86 cents, but now in 2018 we must adjust to the times,” he said.
Virginia and New Jersey currently have the lowest threshold in the nation.
Lindsey said getting stamped with a felony means you can’t vote or get certain school loans or business licenses.
“This is a law that harms our communities, especially our young people who commit mistakes and ought to be corrected and instructed rather than punished with ramifications that saddle them for the rest of their natural lives,” he said.
The Democrat said he understands why store owners would fear a change would be bad for business, but he points to a recent study by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
The study found a higher threshold in other states did not lead to a higher rate of theft.
Gov. Ralph Northam previously voiced support for raising the threshold to $1,000.
The proposal to raise it to $500 cleared the Senate. It still has to make it through the House before it becomes law.