BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) – A store owner and his managers are growing more frustrated by the day as thefts continue to occur at Shades Sunglasses and Casual Apparel. Surveillance cameras are capturing much more than current purchases and they are ready for it to stop.
“We recently had individuals come into our store and use a pocket knife to open our locks and they just walked in and stole a bunch of sunglasses. About $1,500,” manager Jamason Jernigan said.
Over the past 6 months, officials said such thefts were occurring more frequently at all stores in the area, totaling nearly $20,000 in losses. Sometimes their suspect is the one they least expect. They say the problem is getting worse and they don’t know why.
“We had moms who came. They look like a football mom wearing Louis Vuitton driving a BMW they stole from us. It’s not profiling. It could be anyone who walks into the store, that’s what we’ve seen,” Jernigan added.
Every time a theft occurs, a police report is filed, but store managers say that’s not always enough. They tell us that in many cases the police do not make arrests.
“We see in different jurisdictions in Baldwin County that there are different responses,” he continued.
Shades Sunglasses & Casual Apparel operates 10 stores in the Southeast, with stores locally in Orange Beach, Spanish Fort and Mobile. Even with multiple cameras in each store and a large screen showing customers in real time what store workers can see, officials say that’s still not enough to deter thieves.
“We have great cameras. We have HD cameras where you can zoom in and see everything. We can see the hair on their face,” Jernigan said.
In some cases, they say the video shows customers taking clothes into locker rooms only to emerge minutes later with fewer items than they brought.
“It adds up. This happens in all of our stores. That’s thousands of dollars,” he said.
Managers say the insurance doesn’t help in these situations because none of the thefts individually reach the necessary wholesale value for a claim. They want potential thieves to know they are watching and ready to pursue.