The long arm of the law is after a pair seasoned shoplifters who walked off with more than $10,000 in merchandise from a trendy clothing store. Now, Crime Stoppers of Houston is asking area citizens for information on the bandits.
Just after 3 p.m. on July 28, two women walked into French Cuff Boutique at 4048 Bellaire Blvd. and slyly proceeded to stuff their large purses with thousands of dollars in clothing and jewelry.
"It appears by their mannerisms that this wasn't their first time doing this. They were holding the bags under their arms in a way that takes a littl e bit of practice."
The store's digital security system caught the entire 22-minute operation on video, before the duo drove to another French Cuff location at 6401 Woodway for a second shop-lifting spree. Once again, security cameras were rolling.
"It appears by their mannerisms that this wasn't their first time doing this," officer Phil Clark of the West University Place Police Department said at a Crime Stoppers press conference Friday. "They were holding the bags under their arms in a way that takes a little bit of practice."
On the video, for example, the two women use merchandise they were not stealing as cover, draping shirts over their arms to hide their actions from clerks.
"We're doing a lot of training in customer engagement," business owner Kairy-tate Barkley said. "I think here, it could have helped having our staff more engaged with the ladies when they were in the store."
Measuring roughly 1,200 square feet each, the French Cuff branches are fairly intimate, requiring a considerable degree of calm and cool on behalf of the thieves. Barkley noted that she and her employees have lost their "sense of comfort and safety," but remain focused on staying positive.
"There was a business in our community that was victimized in a terrible way — a theft was completed that cost thousands of dollars," said Crime Stoppers director Katherine Cabaniss. "That cost is borne by everyone . . . by [way of] the loss of revenue, by the loss of sales tax and by the loss of confidence that our community is secure."
Organized retail crime, she added, costs the nation upwards of $30 billion annually.
"Actually, 20 minutes inside a store is kind of a long time," Clark told CultureMap after the conference. "Usually a shoplifter goes into a store and the act is over in a matter of minutes. These two took their time and, to me, it certainly looks like their intention was to steal . . . and steal a lot."
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477). All tipsters remain anonymous and stand a chance to gain $5,000 in reward money.