NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nassau County Police say shoplifters at Green Acres and Roosevelt Field malls are no longer being taken into custody after being arrested.

In an effort to cut down on police overtime, shoplifters will instead be issued field appearance tickets, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.

An appearance ticket gives the alleged offender 10 to 20 days to appear at a police precinct for fingerprinting and a mug shot, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.

“The amount of time it takes to serve that appearance ticket went from four hours to about two hours,” Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said.

But Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James Carver said the policy is sending the wrong message to shoplifters.

“It’s like a ticket. It’s like you went through a stop sign. It’s like you know we’ll deal with this later on,” Carver said. “This is going to turn into a disappearance ticket and then you’ll never see this perpetrator again.”

Krumpter defended the new policy.

“We’re not downgrading crime. The person’s still being arrested. They’re still going to be served an appearance ticket,” he said, calling it a pilot program that will be evaluated.

Carver said he believes the 2-month-old pilot program is a mistake.

“I think it sends a powerful message to have somebody in handcuffs, being led away after they commit a crime,” said Carver.

But Krumpter insists it’s still an arrest for petit larceny, just streamlined with less paperwork and overtime costs.

“The logic behind this is taking an arrest that takes eight hours of processing and reduce that to three or four hours of processing, thereby increasing the amount of time spent on patrol,” Krumpter said.

Roosevelt Field management said it respects police policies, but some business owners weren’t thrilled with the program.

“I think to take somebody away in handcuffs, let everybody see ’em. They get a little flash on the news. I think it’s more of a deterrent,” said merchant John Bono.

Legal experts say it’s a nationwide trend to rein in police costs.

But shoppers, too, worry it conveys a lax attitude about crime.

“Personally, I think they should really bring the hammer down,” said Denise Weiner.

“Thou shalt not steal. You learn that from a kid, up,” said another shopper.

Others wondered if other misdemeanor crimes like trespassing or marijuana possession could be next.

Krumpter, however, said this is strictly a shoplifting pilot program for now.

Suffolk County has issued shoplifting appearance tickets for decades, but the NYPD still takes shoplifters into custody for fingerprinting, mug shots and to check criminal data bases.