Lancaster retailers that refuse to press charges against shoplifters will risk having their names publicized to entice thieves, the city's mayor, R. Rex Parris, said Tuesday.
Parris said the initiative was needed because some retailers believe that the cost of apprehending and prosecuting people who steal outweighs losses from theft.
"It's just a balance-sheet issue for them," Parris said in an interview.
But the realization that stores won't take legal action emboldens criminals, the mayor said.
"If you commit small crimes and are not held accountable for them, pretty soon they become large crimes," he said. "We believe crime is contagious and the only thing that stops it is certainty of apprehension."
Ramon Ortega, president and chief executive of the Antelope Valley Chambers of Commerce, a nonprofit business organization with more than 500 members, praised the measure.