Author: 13NewsNow.com, Preston Steger, Christopher Collette, Brenna McIntosh
Published: 7:08 PM EST January 19, 2024
PORTSMOUTH, Va. — A Virginia ABC location in Portsmouth will be converted to counter service less than a month after a man brazenly stole liquor from the store.
The ABC store on London Boulevard is one of two locations being remodeled, the other being on Turnpike Road, officials confirmed to 13News Now.
Under the counter service model, ABC team members select items as requested by customers. There are other stores with self-service available in Portsmouth and other cities in Hampton Roads.
The London Boulevard closed on Jan. 12 and the modeling project is underway, which Virginia ABC officials said should be done within the next few weeks.
13News Now spoke to several Portsmouth residents who say they aren’t happy about the temporary closure, and they aren’t too thrilled with the idea of counter service either.
“I would like to be able to go in the store and touch my own bottle," said Shatiara Mitchell.
“The lines here at like three o’clock in the afternoon are usually pretty long to begin with. Then, if they’re going to have counter service, they’re going to probably be out the door," said Britton Grieser.
Grieser said he can understand why they’re making the change. He said he’s witnessed theft at the London Boulevard store firsthand.
“Usually, it’s couples that come in and somebody will go to the counter, you know, with a couple little airplane bottles or something," he said. "Then their partner will sneak in the back, grab a bottle, and stuff it in their pants...and walk out."
The Turnpike Road store's remodel is done and the store reopened on Jan. 12.
The remodeling comes after the arrest of 41-year-old Diante Jackson of Virginia Beach, who police say stuffed multiple bottles of alcohol down his pants and simply walked out without paying, all while bemused onlookers jeered.
Surveillance video from inside the store on London Boulevard shows the man picking out at least four bottles of top-shelf vodka on Dec. 30.
Additionally, Portsmouth police claimed Jackson had hit this same store before, and stolen more than $3,000 in alcohol.
According to Virginia ABC, the London Boulevard and Turnpike Road locations were among the top five stores across the Commonwealth for theft during the fiscal year 2023.