Small business owners in East County are sounding an alarm over thousands of dollars in losses to shoplifting, and say the thieves don't appear to be facing consequences.
A 7-Eleven franchise owner told NBC 7 every single day shoplifters come in and take what they want, and don't face severe enough consequences if the stolen items are under a certain amount.
"It’s happening every day, hour by hour,” said 7-Eleven Franchise Owner, Jassi Dhillon.
At every one of his six locations, he said snacks fly off the shelves, but are often not paid for.
The owner hopes the city will step in to do something because right now they claim police have their hands tied.
“It’s unbearable. It’s out of control. You will have the same guy coming in five times a day, picking things out," said Dhillon.
He feels it's no longer a priority for police because it is now considered petty theft to steal items under a $950 value, thanks to the passing of Proposition 47 in 2014.
"It's becoming a lifestyle for us now because we can’t do anything much except take the loss, you know," said Dhillon.
He showed NBC 7 several surveillance videos from his cameras recording people shoplifting.
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells is aware it has become a major problem for small business owners now that a group of 7-Eleven store owners are speaking up.
The group said that by the time officers arrive, the shoplifter has left or is not concerned about the ticket they get.
"Usually ends up in the trashcan and it’s just the lawlessness really that the city doesn't prescribe to," said Wells.
Dhillon said he loses between $15,000 and $20,000 each quarter at every location. He hopes law enforcement does more in the future to help curb the growing problem.
"For them, these are small crimes, but this is how the crimes grow. This is where they start. This is where they move onto bigger ones. Please don't wait for something bad to happen," said Dhillon.
NBC 7 reached the El Cajon Police Department for comment but have not heard back.