LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A new crackdown on shoplifting in Shepherdsville means those with sticky fingers could go to jail for swiping an item as small as a candy bar.

After 32 years in the grocery game, Scott Smith, a regional manager for Save A Lot, could go on for days with stories of crooks who pose as customers. 

Smith got a new story to tell a couple of weeks ago when someone tried to swipe a $5 item from the shelf of his Shepherdsville store.

"The police took the person out in handcuffs," Smith explained. 

Not a citation and a court date. Jail, for a $5 item. 

Shepherdsville Police chief Rick McCubbin implemented the new "No Tolerance" shoplifting policy when he took over the department in February. 

"If we're called, and the perpetrator is on scene, and you are accused of shoplifting by the store, you will go to jail," said Maj. Mike O'Donnell, of the Shepherdsville Police Department.

Since the new policy was implemented, cases have dropped nearly 50 percent from the same time last year.  From February to May of 2017 the city made 47 shoplifting reports or arrests, down from 81 in the same time period last year. 

The biggest impact has been felt at the Shepherdsville Walmart. Police say that's where they make most of their runs, and on one occasion, they hauled a woman off to jail for stealing candy bars. 

Her name is Jessica Severs. O'Donnell said on February 16th she was arrested for shoplifting Reese's bars, Hershey bars and a set of headphones.

"We try to enforce all the laws in Shepherdsville, but we're not going to dismiss one crime in order to enforce another," Maj. O'Donnell said.

Some local defense attorneys disagree. 

"Seems a little extreme to me, and it also may indicate they may need a bigger jail in Bullitt County, because there are a lot of shoplifters floating around, and if they arrest all of them, where are they going to put them?" said attorney Thomas Clay.

Police say this shoplifting crackdown brings down bigger problems, as in the case of Michelle Shoup, who was arrested Tuesday, accused of stealing $60 in goods from Walmart and found with drugs.

"It's very often that, when we go to make the shoplifting arrest, those people are wanted for other charges," O'Donnell said.

Back at the store, Smith says these arrests, save a lot.  

"For every dollar you lose, you've got to sell more of that to make up your profits," Smith said. "Hopefully, the message will get out: Don't steal in Shepherdsville. Otherwise you will pay a penalty."

Previously, those accused of minor shoplifting would simply receive a citation.

There is some leniency built into this new policy. Police have slight discretion on whether or not to arrest. During a recent incident, we're told a parent was caught trying to steal food for their kids. The officer gave a citation, and paid for their food. 

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