A woman is arrested following an alleged shoplifting at an Ocean Park maternity/children's consignment store Monday.

A woman is arrested following an alleged shoplifting at an Ocean Park maternity/children's consignment store Monday.

22 pairs of missing shoes raise suspicions

Ocean Park sales staff set up sting that leads to merchandise from many businesses

White Rock RCMP are investigating the extent of the impact on the Semiahmoo Peninsula’s business community, following a shoplifting arrest last Monday in Ocean Park.

Const. Chantal Sears said the accused – described by staff of the store where she was arrested as a frequent customer – is suspected to have targeted “many South Surrey/White Rock businesses prior to her arrest.”

“She was in possession of many items, new with tags from various businesses,” Sears told Peace Arch News by email. “Police are contacting those businesses to see if, in fact, the items were stolen or were purchased legitimately.”

The arrest occurred around 2 p.m. Feb. 20 at Not For Long, a maternity and children’s consignment store.

According to store employee Jessica Herring, it was the culmination of a staff investigation that began following the discovery of missing inventory.

“We had some newer inventory in January and we realized we were missing a ridiculous amount of shoes… like 22 pairs of one particular shoe,” Herring told PAN.

Daily counts determined the discrepancy in the stock was not a one-off, however, staff were at a loss as to who was behind it. No patrons had ever caught their eye as being someone to worry about, Herring said.

“We felt so violated,” she said.

Security cameras installed to help identify the culprit proved their worth on Feb. 15, filming a shopper leaving with items she hadn’t paid for.

Staff then hatched a plan to have her held accountable, arranging a consignment appointment with the woman for Monday afternoon and advising police.

During the appointment, “we saw her put three boxes of shoes in her purse,” Herring said of activity she monitored via the security cameras.

No steps were taken until after the woman left the store, Herring said, at which point, she was followed to her car, confronted and brought back inside to wait for police.

Herring said she and a co-worker, as well as store owner Laura Woroniecki, were to give formal statements as well as the surveillance footage to police Friday (Feb.24).

Sears said Wednesday that a 39-year-old Richmond woman had been released from custody on a promise to appear.