HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Horry County Solicitor's office is cracking down on repeat offender cases by seeking maximum penalties. So far about fifty cases have been moved through the judicial system.
Blackwater Market Co-Owner Tracy Pickens said he has fallen prey to shoplifters more than once. Now he gets a list of the repeat offenders from Conway Police.
"That list helps us keep an eye on who's coming in and what we're looking for because we have had multiple repeat offenders coming into our buildings over the past," explains Pickens. "So it means a whole lot for us to be able to know what's going on before they get in there."
Conway Police Chief Reggie Gosnell passed that same list to the Horry County Solicitor's Office in an effort to get the maximum sentencing for the criminals and getting them off the street.
Assistant Solicitor Jimmy Richardson stated, "They will send us their repeat offenders…those people who they know they will arrest over and over so generally it's shoplifting…it's drug sales."
Add to that those who have committed several burglaries, larcenies, assaults and prostitution to name a few. Then the Solicitor's office takes those cases and seeks stricter penalties.
"They may not give them ten years but maybe two to three years instead of 30 days and then when we come back up we make sure the judge is aware this is not only a repeat offender but here is his record," confirmed Richardson.
Richardson said it is an effort that local law enforcement agencies make to help officers spend less time arresting the same people over and over again.
"Once we make an arrest when we do the investigation of whatever occurred at that location, if there is going to be an incarceration that follows, that officer is off the road for up to an hour," reported Chief Gosnell. "By the time he goes through the booking procedure, logged and booked into the jail and gets back…that is time lost that we can't really make up."
Gosnell adds, "It does take up time that we could be doing other things like patrolling the neighborhoods."
The Solicitor's office is hoping the crackdown will eventually lead to a lower overall crime rate.
Richardson said, "They make up maybe 18 percent of all of the crime so they are overachievers and our plan is to take that small amount of people out of circulation or to change their lifestyle."
Prosecutors at the Solicitor's office said along with the lengthened sentences they sometimes use drug court to help curb repeat offenders' bad habits.