Penticton store owner needs help catching alleged thieves

It is used to publicly shame your bad pets, share your favourite baby photos and now a frustrated Penticton store owner is using social media to try and catch shoplifters.

Leigh Follestad has posted to Facebook security camera footage of a break in that happened in the early morning hours of April 6 in the hopes that someone will recognize the two perpetrators.

“I was tired and frustrated and I thought you know what, Facebook is fantastic,” said Follestad. “Nowadays there is a way to catch them and that is exactly what I am hoping. I sent it to all my friends and they sent to their friends and now it is just going. Someone out there is going to recognize them.”

Follestad received a call that the alarm had been tripped at his Smartshopper store located downtown around 3 a.m. on Sunday. He logged into his security camera video remotely from his home and saw a mess on the store floor.

“Sure enough there was a big hole broken in my front door. I watched the video and see these two punks running into the store and try and jump the counter. We don’t keep any cash on the premises and I guess they figured they would grab some five hour energy drinks and some chocolate bars,” said Follestad. “It was $20 worth of stuff and it costs me $1,000 for the door. That is money out of my pocket that I could be investing it labour dollars, into the community through donations or a variety of other things.”

Social media worked once before for the store owner, who posted a photo of someone believed to have been shoplifting from a prior business and he said a tip from that led police to an arrest.

Follestad said the latest video has been shared a couple hundred times by Monday morning and he already received a tip he passed along to RCMP.

Because of the response he has received with the posting, he has since created a Facebook group called Penticton Shoplifters and Thieves, where he is encouraging other store owners to post their own security footage.

“It goes out to the community and we have a better chance of catching some of these guys. Hopefully, people out shoplifting are going to be having second thoughts because now there is 10,000 people out there that might recognize them. I think it will scare these shoplifters to not do it because they are getting posted and plastered across Facebook and their friends and family might see. Maybe they will be not so likely to do it anymore,” said Follestad.


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