In Plain Sight
March 1, 2013 14 Comments
What follows is one optical pro’s take on what it takes to deal with the ongoing issue of thievery in a retail environment. Some might consider this particular action as rather drastic and potentially dangerous. Check it out and tell 20/20 how you feel and how you might act in coping with the affront of someone stealing YOUR wares. — James J. Spina, 20/20 Editor in Chief
10:30 a.m. A guy comes in to look at frames.
11 a.m. I personally work with him. He knows what to ask and he is good, but I identify him as a person of interest… that is… a potential thief. I alert my staff.
7 p.m. I leave for the evening.
7:10 p.m. The same guy returns, likely watching all day to see when I leave and manages to rip us off for $9,000 at retail. My store manager runs out to chase him and actually gets a plate number.
7:45 p.m. Pittsburgh Police show up, take the report and run the plate. The vehicle is an Avis rental.
NEXT DAY: 8:45 a.m. I am on the case. If you know me, you know I’m relentless in terms of my responsibility to my profession. I call the Pittsburgh police station. My detective can’t get back to me until 4 p.m., and nobody else can talk to me about this. We have knowledge of what’s going on so we take matters into our own hands.
9:30 a.m. I reach out to the district manager of Avis; I tell her my name, the case number, the description of the car and that it was potentially involved in a string of crimes in Pittsburgh. She rallies to the righteous challenge and gives me everything she had on this rental.
9:45 a.m. I’m on the phone with the police in Copley, Ohio after finding out that car was being returned by 2 p.m. the next day. Copley police are amazing. They put an APB out on this rental.
12 p.m. I get a call. The cops have located the car. They have an unmarked watching it.
2:30 p.m. My cell rings. They got the guy. My frames are in a bag in the rental located at his condo in Ohio. He was going to sell them that afternoon.
3:30 p.m. The thief is in jail for the night, to be arraigned in the morning. We retrieve my frames along with two frames that were stolen from Heidi Optics. (Heidi owes me a beer or three for this one.)
We can breathe a bit easier, knowing we did what we had to do to protect our eyewear and put a thief in jail. I don’t want to hear my life is worth more than $9,000. Don’t steal from me. The thief is being brought up on federal charges and will face a grand jury, and YES, I will be there when he is formally charged and sentenced. I will say to him what I need to say and love every minute of it.
Vice President and COO