Store owner heartbroken after shoplifters take hundreds of dollars in products made by local artisans

Heartbroken by shoplifting

Cindy White

A small business owner is so upset after her store was targetted by shoplifters that she’s wondering if she should just close up shop.

True Art Kelowna, on Enterprise Way next to the Hyatt hotel, was hit on Saturday by a group of women who appeared to be working together.

The store opened during the pandemic to help connect creators with customers. It wasn’t until owner Diane Geddes was looking for a piece of jewelry to post on her online store that she noticed things were missing.

“So then, I went back into our camera system. We found that when these few ladies that were in here (it) kind of looked possibly suspicious. (I) went back into the cameras and saw them taking things and putting them into their purses,” she explained.

She says the women were in the store for about 20 minutes and believes they took several items from different areas where displays are set up to market the creations of different artisans from the Kelowna area.

“It’s heartbreaking and also very frustrating,” said Geddes who now has to contact the artisans whose items were taken at a time of year when they rely on sales for a significant portion of their annual income.

The incident has also shaken her faith in her customers.

“Now our business, we have to double up on staff. We will have two of three staff members in here at a time. And, it’s unfortunate, but now we have to almost think that people are coming in here to steal things. We’ve never had that before,” adds Geddes.

While large national and international retailers budget for loss prevention, small businesses often don’t have the resources for security staff. It’s especially difficult to keep an eye on everyone at busy times of year.

“It does happen when more than one person will work in tandem with the other. They’ll distract an employee while the other conceals an item, so it is hard to detect,” says Cpl. Michael Gauthier of the Kelowna RCMP.

“it’s important if you have security to use them. They are a second set of eyes in the store at all times.”

He says to trust your gut and don’t be afraid to report even minor incidents to police. “There’s no incident too small. In order for us to actively track that and draw attention to it, we have to know about it.”

More Kelowna News