Ken and Barbara Phillips, owners of the Triangle Food Mart and Beachâ€™s Grocery, say that larceny costs more to them than just items taken from the store â€” it costs time as well.
â€œIt takes all this time to drive to Lincolnton and get papers taken out at the magistrateâ€™s office,â€ said Ken Phillips. â€œIn the past, we would fill out a police report that was signed by a deputy at the store.â€
Times have changed in east Lincoln over the years, said Phillips.
At one time, there was a magistrate located on the eastern end of the county. However, when that magistrate, Rodney Sherrill, passed away more than 20 years ago, he wasnâ€™t replaced.
â€œBusinesses donâ€™t have time to run to Lincolnton and get papers at the magistrateâ€™s office,â€ said Phillips. â€œWith the growth here we have to have a magistrate at this end of the county.â€
The need for a magistrate in east Lincoln became apparent to Phillips after a January incident, in which someone stole alcohol from his store.
According to Barbara Phillips, the man approached the counter with beer and wine and asked for shrimp from the meat case.
When Barbara Phillips went to get the shrimp, the man took off.
â€œHe ran to the back, grabbed a couple of cases of beer and took off,â€ said Barbara Phillips.
Ken Phillips added that when something happened at one of his stores, he never had to go to Lincolnton. He wasnâ€™t sure if it was a new procedure since Tim Daugherty was elected sheriff.
According to Lincoln County Sheriffâ€™s Office chief deputy Barry Taylor, the procedure of how a report is handled depends on what happened during the situation and what was taken.
â€œEither the incident is assigned to an investigator or the deputy takes the report,â€ said Taylor.
A deputy was assigned to take a report from the Phillips.
According to Taylor, a magistrate would help east Lincoln citizens more than law enforcement.
â€œEven with a magistrate in Denver, law enforcement would still have to transport the prisoner to jail in Lincolnton,â€ said Taylor. â€œIt would help the citizens because they could draw up their own warrants.â€
Taylor added that superior court judges determine where magistrates are assigned.
Sheriff Tim Daugherty agreed with Taylorâ€™s sentiments.
â€œEven with a magistrate in east Lincoln, law enforcement would still have to go to Lincolnton,â€ said Daugherty. Still, Daugherty didnâ€™t discount the possibility.
â€œItâ€™s not something thatâ€™s been totally ruled out.â€
For Ken Phillips, the issue isnâ€™t the fact the crime happened in the first place.
â€œI was a little upset at first because we had to go down to Lincolnton,â€ said Phillips, adding the officer that responded to his store was very nice. â€œWe never had to go to Lincolnton before.â€
Phillips added he was thankful the suspect didnâ€™t get away with more merchandise.
â€œWe thought he was going to get more stuff,â€ said Phillips. â€œHowever, we shouldnâ€™t have walked away from the register.â€
Daugherty recently appeared before the Lincoln County Commission to discuss needs of the sheriffâ€™s office. Daugherty said the sheriffâ€™s office lacks manpower concurrent to the growth in the entire county. All told, the office is around 18 officers short and Daugherty told commissioners he hopes to fill the positions over the next two to three years.
Manpower issue aside, commissioners also had a dialogue with Daugherty regarding the substation that will be located in the new Wal-Mart shopping center on N.C. 73,
Daugherty told commissioners he didnâ€™t think the substation located there would serve all of east Lincolnâ€™s needs.
â€œTwo offices â€“ Charlie North and Charlie South â€“ would serve the east end of the county,â€ said Daugherty; â€œCharlieâ€ is the name of the east Lincoln district.
Staff writer Maribeth Kiser contributed to this article.
by Jon Mayhew