HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Over the past six months, one local pet store business has seen an uptick in shoplifting in their stores.

Owners say this has resulted in around $500 of losses a big hit for a small business.

“At a small business, it feels very personal. It’s no different than coming into my home and stealing from me,” said Brenda Bartlett the owner of Village Pet Supplies and Gifts.

Village Pet Supplies and Gifts is a locally owned pet store with locations in Luzerne and Hanover Township in Luzerne County.

Barlett says over the past several months they’ve seen an increase of theft in their stores.

The store’s surveillance cameras in the Luzerne store recently captured images of a woman allegedly stealing merchandise just a few feet away from an employee.

“When somebody takes something from here not only have they stolen my cost in it and that money coming back is what allows me to put the next product on the shelf, they’ve stolen the profit margin that allows me to pay my bills,” explained Barlett.

Barlett says most of the time people steal things they don’t actually need.

“People never steal essentials they never steal something that will keep their pet alive. They steal jewelry. They steal harnesses. They steal a dog chew. They don’t steal food,” added Bartlett.

Village Pet Supplies says they take theft seriously even if you try to buy something on your way out.

Bartlett says sometimes people will buy something after stealing to try to convince staff they were planning on making a purchase the whole time. According to Bartlett employees are trained to keep an eye out for this and she says stealing and making a purchase is still stealing.

“We always always always prosecute. the police will get called every single time,” continued Bartlett.

Barlett says that no matter what store you’re in you’re on camera. So smile and if you plan on stealing something

“Just know that you’ll get caught. It’s not worth it. If you want something if you truly want something, you use your hard-earned money to buy it. You don’t take it from somebody else’s hard-earned income. it’s just not right,” said Barlett.

Kingston Borough Police have identified the woman in the video and are moving forward with their investigation.