Vermont Retail & Grocers Association director: It’s ‘demoralizing when our prosecutors aren’t prosecuting’

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NOT GETTING PUNISHED?: Retail theft is a top concern for businesses in Vermont, according to the president of the Vermont Retail & Grocers Association.

In a guest appearance on “The Morning Drive” radio show this week, the executive director of the Vermont Retail & Grocers Association said retail theft is a top concern for the many businesses her organization represents.

“It continues to be a growing issue,” Erin Sigrist, the group’s executive director told show host Kurt Wright. “Again, not just in Chittenden County — I’m hearing from people down in Bennington, down in Springfield, down in Chester, you know what I mean … small towns.”

Wright said he thought it was important to discuss retail theft because “obviously, it continues to be a big issue.”

Failed legislative efforts


Erin Sigrist, executive director of the Vermont Retail & Grocers Association

“[Retail theft] is tough to identify, it is so multi-faceted,” Sigrist said. “I will give a shoutout — the Senate Judiciary Committee a couple of years ago did consider including different regulations or different laws that would hopefully crack down on organized retail crime.”

However, the committee’s attempts to pass measures were unsuccessful, she added.

In particular, Sigrist cited problems in Burlington, and noted discussions she held with business owners in the downtown shopping district.

“We have continuous conversations with our friends on Church Street,” she said. “I just had another interaction with a business in downtown Burlington. It’s a constant discussion. I think we also need to be supporting our police officers. I think that it’s not just demoralizing for retail employees or retail management, it’s also demoralizing when our prosecutors aren’t prosecuting.

“And what’s the point of going after these guys if they are just going to give him a slap on the wrist and then throwing them back on the street. … It’s much larger than just one organization, it’s everybody [getting hurt by thefts].”

No consequences

Wright suggested that the lack of consequences for crime is contributing to the issue.

“Don’t you feel that … if there are not consequences, people are going to figure this out, and they just know that they can steal with impunity?”

Sigrist agreed.

“These people are smart. They know what the consequences are,” she said. “They know what the threshold is [the penalties relative to how much they steal], and they go just under that threshold and they walk out the door and walk into the next store — and it’s a general practice for them.”

One caller to the program said the solution needs to be more than hiring new security guards or trying to make customers feel safe.

“Until we actually can mobilize an effort to change the penalty laws for shoplifting, particularly these major shop-lifting rings, nothing is going to change,” the unidentified caller said. “It’s just disgusting out there — it’s so demoralizing for the staff and they don’t get paid enough as it is.”

The show can be heard online here.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Public domain and VSFA

9 thoughts on “Vermont Retail & Grocers Association director: It’s ‘demoralizing when our prosecutors aren’t prosecuting’

  1. File a writ of affidavit with the court, might cost a little but an affidavit sworn by and verified by a notary is a legal document that must be dealt with by the AG and the court system.

  2. It has nothing to do with ESG, nor Marxism. But I do wonder – is some of this theft related to poverty?

    • For those who spend all of their financial resources on drugs, legal or otherwise, it’s an easy claim of poverty to say “I dont have any money for housing”. Providing free housing for someone with an addiction problem is simply enabling them.

  3. The security guards do not carry weapons..
    Some of the shoplifters do.
    The shoplifters also know the guards hours and work around them.
    The store employees are helpless as people walk out with their carts full of merchandise.
    Yes the laws need to be changed and sadly armed guards need to be employed.

  4. An association of retail interests in Chittenden County (which shall go nameless) was told by local police that the organized or unorganized retail thefts at businesses are tolerated since the the alternative is that homes and cars would otherwise be targeted, and cause more public outrage. Junkies HAVE TO feed their habits after all. They dont have a choice…like quitting, as with the taxpayers’ money promoting that strategy toward tobacco users…”just quit!”. With Vermont’s fatal overdoses numbering over 200/year now, one would think that the problem would just solve itself, but apparently the idea that using opioids recreationally is just too tempting and is maintaining a large population of junkies. Of course, we could enforce the border laws and try to keep the fentanyl out, but that would be mean to migrants. A majority of Vermonter VOTE to maintain this status quo, both locally, statewide and nationally. We is dumb.

  5. Ban them from the stores as they get caught. Issue a “Do not Trespass “ order or then so you can legally something if they show up again. If everyone does it together then it won’t be long before they will not be allowed in any public retailer. If you brand them they will be tarnished for life. And legal action can be taken if they violate the order!

    • Unfortunately a trespass order is their only recourse, and the enforcement on those violators is about as lax as it is for other “petty crimes”. Also, in Vermont, we have recently done away with anything resembling “tarnished for life” as we have programs to expunge many minor offenses and to discourage landlords, employers and lenders from having access to a person’s background. We no longer live in a merit-based society, and the left likes it that way, preferring a victimhood-based society. We vote for this.

  6. It’s demoralizing when the Grocers Association teams up with VPIRG to have single use plastic bags banned to save a fraction of a cent.

    • It may have been the other way around, they are trying to infiltrate all businesses with ESG, which is just another marxist tool, just like not prosecuting crimes and letting people steal.

      Of course the biggest threat is stealing from the tax payers, most recent example, we are paying $60k per year rent on one room apt for the homeless, it’s a horrendous misuse of money. There are so many wiser ways to solve the problem.

      Just spending money doesn’t solve anything, but they believe it’s all free money, so what are you going to do?

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