When a $330 Marc Jocobs clutch was stolen the afternoon of July 21 from kiki in Baton Rouge's Perkins Rowe (a store owned by Lafayette retailer Kiki Frayard), 25-year-old manager Cammy Lowe didn't wait around for local officials to solve the crime. She'd visited with the two shoppers when they came into the upscale boutique, both of whom were well-dressed and friendly, and could even recall the new Lexus they'd driven up in parked right outside of the store. Lowe noticed the bag was missing when the pair walked out of the store and immediately checked the surveillance tape. "We had the whole thing on tape. We even captured the car, which had an LSU plate on the front," she says.
The duo had been hanging around the fragrance bar, the tape revealing that the older woman appeared to be shielding the younger woman from Lowe’s view. The tape clearly shows the younger woman slipping the clutch into her own purse.
Lowe called the shopping center's security, which reviewed the tape, and then she walked around to other stores, describing the women and asking if anyone had seen them. Store employees and managers recognized the women from the descriptions she gave and said they were regulars. Upset that the shoplifting had occurred under her watch -- Lowe says she turned around for only a few seconds while they were in the store -- the manager decided the next day to take action to help police investigators. Figuring the alleged shoplifter (who had been accompanied by an older woman) was about her age, Lowe decided to post the surveillance video, still shots captured from it and a pic of the Marc Jacobs bag on the social networking site Facebook. Even if the young woman was not a Facebook user, Lowe was hoping people would recognize her.
The retailer's instincts were right on.
"Some people from other stores recognized her from Facebook, and that's pretty much what led to us catching her," Lowe says. A manager at another Perkins Rowe store knew the woman's first name and told Lowe she was in the store every week. On Saturday, Aug. 2, Lowe got a call from the store. "I rushed in there," Lowe says. "[The two women] were checking out at the counter. When they left, I followed them to their car and wrote their license plate down. I was really determined," she says.
Lowe called the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office detective assigned to the case and gave him the license plate number. He said he'd come in with a photo lineup. The following Wednesday the detective came into the store with six pictures of blonde women. "I had to identify her," Lowe says. The alleged shoplifter was arrested Aug. 8 and charged with felony theft. The INDsider was unable to confirm the woman's name and address with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office before press time.
Lowe is convinced Facebook solved the crime. "We had people commenting on our walls, so it kept momentum going and kept us motivated," she says. "And I had a lot of pressure from Kiki to bring them down," she says with a laugh.
If you're a Facebook user and would like to view the surveillance video and Lowe's amusing description of the incident, click here.