Fashion Thieves


Story Details

They're the fashionista's after a five-finger discount… Desperate for a designer deal that doesn't cost a cent.

But the game's up for these couture crooks...

Adelaide boutique owners are banding together and fighting back. Taking to Facebook and naming and shaming light fingered thieves.

Joanna Arulampalam is the online marketing manager for Adelaide's Tuyu Boutique... The store recently caught this shoplifter on camera... Then posted her pic on Facebook.

Watch as she brazenly snatches a top off the rack, shoves it into her bag and heads straight for the door.

"Using social media like we did it's a form of social justice we know who you are we can find you and that's it," says Joanna.

She's not alone, this woman was caught at Attitudes Boutique in Glenelg. First pilfering a $300 jacket and then a $200 dress... Without even flinching.

Store manager Alex Schapel didn't hesitate to expose her online...

“We were gobsmacked. We couldn't believe they did it, how they did it… hopefully someone recognizes them and tells us and helps the other stores in the local areas as well,” says Alex.

And other stores are following suit...

“…To the girls that just stole a jumper from me I know exactly what you look like and you might have gotten away with it this time but know that you won't next time”.

Nicki Carapella from Wildchild says fashion retailers are working together... Alerting staff of alleged shoplifters and even refusing them entry...

“If we get a tip off from other stores as fellow retailers, let each other know if somebody's done the wrong thing, we pass on photos or whatever we can and if somebody walks into my store that is a shop-lifter we deny them entry and I have done that this week with somebody… we get on that phone instantly, we send photos we're texting them we put them on social media and we're letting each other know,” says Nicki.

Shoplifting is costing stores tens of thousands of dollars not only in stolen stock but in upgrading security…

“Our CCTV we've had to spend about $10,000 installing that in our three stores,” says Joanna.

The girls say it's not just stereo typical teens giving in to temptation but well organised ... And savvy syndicates who on-sell their spoils…

“It's not the person we expected anymore, it's not the young girl that does it for a kick, it's the woman that looks the part, that spends the money that talks and shops and spends and steals at the same time… as soon as somebody's stolen from us generally you look on Ebay and you find your item for sale on there,” says Nicki.

“What we have experienced is almost in a professional way these security de-taggers, people coming in with mechanisms to de-tag clothes and that's surprising and sad and upsetting and a bit shocking to be honest,” says Joanna.

We found tag removers online for as little as $4... And Youtube videos teaching the tricks of the thieving trade.

“What can we do, how can we stop thieves, what rights do we have?” asks Joanna.

Well according to Tindall Gask Bentley criminal lawyer, Rachael Shaw... Plastering the faces of alleged thieves online and even sharing or commenting on them is risky business.

“If there is a picture of a person and people can identify them then that's obviously defamatory because it will be implying that they are a thief and engaged in criminal activity and the obligation would be on the owner to then have to prove that that person did in fact steal from their store… anyone who shares in that information whether by posting or commenting is equally liable,” says Rachel.

Azalia Boutique owner Azadeh Afzali says Facebook worked in her favour when she posted a pic of this young girl… she uses her friend as a decoy and quickly bags a freebee behind the sales assistant's back...

“I put her surveillance up on Facebook and talked to her, targeting her, and she returned all the items gradually and we didn't proceed to press charges because the items were returned… I need to protect myself, I know the police are there to protect us as well but it would have been a long process and I wouldn't have had my items back… if you are coming in to steal… no doubt I am not hesitant to put your footage up on Facebook and I know my rights,” says Azadeh.

Business owners have this message for would-be thieves...

“We may not have caught you but we have tonnes of photos circulating between us retailers and it's only a matter of time til we catch you,” says Nicki.