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Published:November 25th, 2008 14:16 EST

Shoplifters' Mug Shots To Be Flashed On Mall Electronic Billboards

By Robert Paul Reyes

"Staten Island shoplifters, beware: `Tis definitely better to give than deceive this holiday season.

Shoppers caught filling their stockings (or anything else) with stolen merchandise could find their faces flashing every six minutes on electronic billboards in the Staten Island Mall. The first-of-its-kind program - initially to feature five convicted Staten Island shoplifters - will run through Christmas."

Shoplifters don`t just affect the bottom line of store owners, shoplifting is such a pervasive problem that the only way that merchants can recoup their losses is by hiking prices across the board. I don`t have any sympathy for shoplifters who are humiliated, if it weren`t for them we would be paying less at the cash register.

It`s important to note that only shoplifters who have been convicted will have their mug shots flashing on electronic billboards. Mall owners should abide by the sacred principle of "innocent until proven guilty" and wait until alleged shoplifters are convicted before they shame them.

I`m against the policy of some municipalities of confiscating and selling the vehicles of individuals arrested for drug crimes or the solicitation of prostitutes. This is putting the cart before the horse, nobody should be punished before he is convicted in a court of law.

Some shoplifters are so brazen that they will often return to the scene of the crime, but I doubt they will be stupid enough to return to a mall where their mug shots are shown on electronic billboards every few minutes.

The electronic billboards featuring convicted shoplifters can serve as a good object lesson for our children. When we take the young ones to the mall, we can point to the dastardly criminals and warn then that crime doesn`t pay.

This is a terrific idea and I hope it`s adopted by malls all over the country.