Small businesses, especially new ones, often struggle to survive--so when they get hit by shoplifters, it can be especially devastating.
Some local women's clothing boutiques recently were targeted by the same shoplifter and the woman was caught red-handed on camera stealing merchandise.
Coquette Couture has been in business for less than a year at the Bridges at 57th, but owner Kayleen Leonard is already learning the hard way not to trust every customer who walks in the door. A woman who Leonard suspects stole from the store once before, paid another visit.
"You usually don't approach someone when they're talking on the phone. She does this to keep our employee away from her," Coquette Couture Owner Kayleen Leonard said.
As you can see on this store surveillance video, as the woman talks of the phone, she grabs some expensive bags and places them out of site from the clerk, who was helping another customer.
"She steps back as if she's comparing them. You'll see her kind of look up at my employee," Leonard said.
She then proceeds to take smaller items nearby.
"Pretending like she's shopping and then she just opens up her bag and sticks it right in," Leonard said.
After a few more circles around the store, she prepares to take off.
"That's a very large bag, so what she did was she opened that one up and stuffed inside that bag and just turned around when she walked out and just put it on the outside and took off," Leonard said.
She then hit Posh Boutique a couple of doors down.
Posh Owner Becky Wiswall: When we turned our back to check on a customer, she grabbed perfume and a couple of hair pins.
Angela: Nothing as big as what happened a couple doors down?
Becky: No, no; but still watching that footage form a couple of doors down it just makes you sick to your stomach. No matter what, it just hurts small businesses.
Leonard has printed up pictures of the woman shoplifting in the video and is now distributing it to boutiques around town, so they can be on the lookout for her.
"She was so good at it. She was in here for maybe six minutes and she took all that stuff within six minutes," Leonard said.
The irony of how the woman left her store isn't lost on Leonard.
"And she said, 'thank you.' She's a polite thief," Leonard said.
The store owners are working with police to catch this thief before she strikes again. Leonard is looking into adding more security cameras to her store. If you recognize the woman in the video, call police.