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Two Friday Harbor store owners track down shoplifting suspects
When Julie Capron of Softwear and Michelle Waldron of Daisy Bloom suspected two teen-age girls of stealing clothing from their stores, they decided to do something about it. Right then and there.
They looked for the girls. And they found them on the ferry — wearing $800 worth of clothing belonging to four stores.
And now, the girls — ages 14 and 16, from Bellingham — face charges of second-degree felony theft.
The alleged thefts took place on Nov. 23.
Capron said that after the girls visited her store, she checked a dressing room and found an empty hanger, but she didn’t suspect theft. Later, Waldron called Capron and said two girls had just been in Daisy Bloom and had stolen some items, and asked if the girls were in her store.
The girls had visited Softwear again and Capron again checked the dressing room; that time, she found several empty hangers.
The duo teamed up and searched downtown for the girls. Realizing the 4:15 p.m. ferry to Lopez Island was in port taking on vehicles and passengers, they decided to check the ferry landing. There, they saw the girls standing on an outside deck of the ferry; the girls saw them and ran inside, Capron said.
Ferry workers delayed the ferry’s departure, called the Sheriff’s Department and allowed Capron and Waldron to board. A female ferry worker found the girls in a women’s restroom. A sheriff’s deputy and a Customs officer boarded and took the girls to a waiting patrol car.
“Both of the girls were wearing something of mine on the outside,” Capron said. “An officer asked them to take everything off that wasn’t theirs, and they took off layers of clothing.”
Capron and Waldron said the girls showed no remorse.
“The ferry system was very cooperative,” Capron said. “They were great. And the sheriff’s deputy and Customs agent were helpful.”
Waldron said shoplifting hurts the community as well as merchants. Stolen merchandise affects prices and, if the merchant files a claim, it affects the store’s insurance rates.
“I have two kids at home,” Waldron said. “If you steal from my store, you’re stealing from my kids’ Christmas.”
Capron added, “It’s not like you’re stealing from some unknown face that’s buying that stuff. Everything in here, we pay for. There’s nothing about the economy that’s making 14- and 16-year-old girls steal. They don’t have rent, they don’t have mortgages, but we have those expenses.”
Sheriff Bill Cumming said the teens’ families had been visiting Lopez Island that day and let the girls take the ferry to Friday Harbor. The girls were charged, fingerprinted and released to their parents after the arrest.
Cumming’s advice for merchants: “Know who’s in your store. Make contact with people to let them know you’re aware they’re in the store. Be close at hand.”
Install a camera system so if you are the victim of shoplifting, you can review videotape. And some stores require customers to check backpacks at the counter.