Video captured the arrest of a woman in Not For Long last year. (Contributed photo)

South Surrey sting ends with dropped charges

Shop owner frustrated with outcome after videotaping regular customer

A South Surrey shop owner learned last weekend that charges laid after a woman was videotaped last year stuffing children’s shoes into a bag have been dropped.

Laura Woroniecki, owner of Not For Long in Ocean Park, said she was told by White Rock RCMP that charges were dropped but was not given an explanation.

White Rock RCMP confirmed to Peace Arch News Friday that both charges had been dropped but did not say why.

Two charges of theft under $5,000 were made after the Feb. 20, 2017 arrest.

At the time of arrest, White Rock RCMP Const. Chantal Sears told PAN that a woman “was in possession of many items, new with tags from various businesses. Police are contacting those businesses to see if, in fact, the items were stolen or purchased legitimately.”

A statement on Not For Long’s Facebook page, posted Thursday evening, said: “I wonder if it helped that her husband was VPD.”

Woroniecki told PAN Friday that the woman, a regular at the maternity and children’s consignment store, mentioned to employees on more than one occasion that her husband was a police officer with Vancouver Police Department, and repeated this to the arresting officer.

Woroniecki said she confirmed with a friend on the VPD that the claim was true.

The 2017 arrest was made after employees set up a sting operation, having had 75 pairs of shoes – worth approximately $3,500 – stolen in the previous year, Woroniecki said.

Employees had invited the woman – who they suggested was a serial shoplifter – to the store and hid cameras around the stop, including one inside a shoe-box. Woroniecki was next door, watching the cameras on a live-stream; the only employee working the counter purposely kept her back to the merchandise.

“You saw her take the shoe, hold it down beside her, walk around, and then she would just pop it in her bag and keep looking at something else,” Woroniecki told PAN, noting this was done three times in less than two minutes.

“She left the building with the shoes. At that point, I contacted the RCMP and I went outside and said that I’ve been watching the whole time you’ve been in my store, I saw what happened, I know what’s in your bag.”

Woroniecki said the woman was in the process of emptying her bag into her vehicle, and that RCMP were there within 20 seconds.

Woroniecki said she overhead the arresting officer speaking to the suspect.

“He said, ‘you’re not very good at this as that you’ve been arrested already three times,’” she said.

“We submitted the tape to them afterwards, they were amazing. The RCMP, 100 per cent, were on our side,” she said. “I’m so happy with what the RCMP did.”

Woroniecki said, however, that the situation has caused her to lose faith in the courts, but she understands it’s considered a petty theft.

“I understand how it works – the courts don’t have the time.”

She noted that after the arrest, the store hasn’t had a single item go missing.

“I can put two and two together,” Woroniecki said.

Contacted Friday, a spokesperson for BC Prosecution Service said he will look into the case and get back to PAN.

 

Laura Woroniecki, owner of Not For Long in Ocean Park, stands behind a wall of shoes in her store Friday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

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