MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The owners of Buster’s Liquor in East Memphis are calling for change within the judicial system after a brazen break-in.

The store’s recent Facebook post renews questions about Shelby County’s bail system, following what store owners called a crime wave.

“Thugs and criminals now have the upper hand in Memphis and they know it,” the post read, in part. “Until our prosecutors and judicial system hand out more swift, harsher, and meaningful penalties as a strong deterrent, then this behavior will sadly continue.”

This comes after their business was burglarized by about 10 suspects, resulting in thousands of dollars in damage and stolen merchandise.  And this isn’t the first time.  Last August, 14 men broke into Buster’s and stole $10,000 worth of liquor. 

The owners claim the majority of the suspects are out on bond and quote “continue to commit these crimes as repeat offenders.”

Over in Midtown at Regions Bank, an accused theft reportedly mocked the judicial system, telling an officer, “Just take me to jail so I can bond out, I ain’t got time for this.”

Kenneth Winfrey’s wish was granted.

He’s now charged with forgery and theft of property after investigators with Memphis Police say he attempted to cash a fraudulent check for $5,800 on Thursday.

Court records show that since 2012, Winfrey has been charged with theft in several cases in Shelby County.

Data from the city of Memphis suggests from January to May, more than 50 percent of the people arrested this year were repeat offenders.

“The system is broken, and these repeat offenders keep repeating because there is no deterrent,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said.

The DA’s office released a statement Friday afternoon:

“There’s no question this is a serious problem, and we understand the frustration. It’s nothing new; we’ve seen a steady rise in crime since 2016. Our office has been meeting with retailers, restaurant owners, and other business leaders about this. We’ve set up a task force on those organized retail thefts, partnering with MPD, and we expect to be able to announce significant progress soon.”

As the calls for reform continue, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy believes it’s important to have the right perspective when addressing issues of bond and sentencing.

“It’s not going to deter crime if we say the person is getting eight years versus 12 years, or 10 years versus 15 years,” Mulroy said. “What’s important is A, what is the likelihood they’re going to get arrested in the first place and then B, what can we do to make sure that once they’re in the system they’re less likely to reoffend?”

Beginning July 1 in Tennessee, only a general sessions, criminal court or circuit judge will have power to set bond for defendants in class A and B felonies.

As for Kenneth Winfrey — his bond is set for $40,000. He has not posted it yet.