Shoplifters: You Have Been Warned

Everyone has experienced some degree of theft.  It doesn’t matter if it’s pennies or millions or if it’s tangible or not.  Theft is theft.  At SWAM,  theft is a seldom occurrence but never underestimated.  Many have asked about this sign and if the sign is true. Yes, it is true and perhaps it’s an experience worth sharing.

When I realized I was a victim,  I was extremely anxious and pissed off.  However, it did prepare me to make changes to the store, imagine scenarios that would help me visualize a plan of reaction, and learn about the painstaking process of the judicial system.

In 2008,  a charming, Sunday dressed couple shoplifted from my store not once but twice during the year.  We knew this couple would be back so we studied the surveillance video and secured the potential items of interest.  Sure enough, they were back.  Without even knowing it, a friendly regular assisted us by answering all the distracting questions from the male partner.  Mom was able to watch the female and I called 911.  Then Mom courageously followed them out and got their license plate number. It wasn’t too long before the detectives found the owner  of the vehicle, the female partner.

Identifying her in a photo line up was extremely difficult, especially when they were all crack addicts and very different from what she looked like now.  Nevertheless, the woman was identified and swiftly arrested, but she never gave up her partner.  Trial was the most frustrating part of the process.  Continuance after continuance from both sides to prepare their case would make any witness give up and not show up for court.  Giving up was not an option.

Things happen for a reason, even if we don’t know what it is.   ~unknown

She may not be a rat but her partner was an idiot.  One fateful day at court, her partner sat right next to her in the courtroom.  I asked the prosecutor if I could make a ‘citizen’s arrest.’  With the help of the HPD officers, he was identified and arrested at the courthouse.  In cuffs, he was blabbering on that I was a liar and he’d never been to my store.  My emotions skyrocketed to a level of anger that I never want to experience again.  Calling me a liar? He was caught on video stealing a 40 year old port! I wanted to slap his smug, arrogant face and rip the hair of out her head when she came out of the courtroom to glare at me.  If not for the coincidental bystander who just happened to be there and to distract my attention by preaching the gospel to me, I might have been arrested as well.   It was so surreal, so emotional, and so empowering.  I never had any one arrested before but this was just unbelievable.

After a year and him jumping bail, it ended.  Convictions for both.  No jail time for her, just drug treatment.  Minimal jail time for him with drug treatment.   Was it worth it?  Hell yeah!  I come to work everyday knowing that SWAM got justice.  Commit a crime at SWAM,  you will be prosecuted, and you will be convicted.  Plain and simple…don’t do it and we’ll live happier lives.

 

That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind.  The time is always right to do the right thing.   ~ Dr. Martin Luther King

Category : Blog Posted on July 6, 2011

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