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"Nothing they can do about it": Homeless, shoplifters blamed for Big Lots closing in Citrus Heights

Homeless, shoplifters blamed for Big Lots closing in Citrus Heights
Homeless, shoplifters blamed for Big Lots closing in Citrus Heights 02:25

CITRUS HEIGHTS — Big Lots is raising big concerns in Citrus Heights as word got out that the store is closing up shop.

"What's going to fill the spot? It's just going to go downhill from here, I guess," said Todd Chapman.

Chapman shops there every week, but his last visit got him so upset he posted about it on Nextdoor and received dozens of responses. Chapman said an employee told him the growing homeless population in the parking lot, coupled with rampant shoplifting, is forcing them to shut down.

"She said theft is just out of control. People are filling up their shopping carts and just walking out of the store," said Chapman. "And there's nothing they can do about it."

Rachel Michelin, the president of the California Retailers Association, isn't surprised. She said retail theft is rampant right now. CBS13 talked with her exactly one year ago when we saw an uptick in disturbing smash and grabs. Michelin said progress has been made since then, but there's still more work to do. She blames a loophole in the law where up to $950 in thefts only amounts to a misdemeanor.

"Now we need law enforcement to partner with us. We need them to show up to really be a deterrent to this. We need prosecutors to prosecute and we need to look at Prop 47 and figure out how we can fix it to make it work so that our businesses are protected and, more importantly, our employees are protected and our neighbors can continue to be served by these businesses," said Michelin.

As the Citrus Heights Big Lots prepares to close up shop in January, thieves are stealing way more than just a big name store.

"Just the thought that there's that much disrespect for the law and that much lawlessness in the community I grew up in, it's very disheartening," said Chapman.

The California Retailers Association says for every big name store that shuts down because of thefts, there are three smaller stores that will shut down. Michelin is hoping the governor's record funding to curb retail theft will start making a difference.

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