Store owner apprehends accused shoplifters.

July 25, 2019

Store owner apprehends accused shoplifters.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

PENTWATER – Oldewick Post owner Crystal Babbin apprehended three 18-year-old women in her store Wednesday, July 24, who allegedly went on a shoplifting spree in downtown stores, stealing nearly 50 items, according to Pentwater Police Chief Laude Hartrum.

Babbin, who served in the US Air Force, said the suspects picked the wrong person to steal from. One of the women had left her purse open, and Babbin noticed there was one of her store items inside it.

“I reached in the bag and grabbed it, and said, ‘What’s this?'”

Babbin was suspicious of the three woman because she had been notified by the owner of West End Monroe Boutique that they had stolen from her store. Babbin also recognized the trio had been in her store previously.

Babbin and the other store owner were able to corner two of the suspects while the third suspect ran out of the store. She directed an employee to call 911.

“I said dump your bags.” Approximately $500 in stolen merchandise including clothing, candles and jewelry was found, she said. The third suspect returned after Babbin told the other women to call her back. Her bag was immediately taken into police evidence along with the other two bags of merchandise that were dumped out, she said.

The Pentwater Police Department will turn over its police report to the Oceana County Prosecutor’s Office seeking arrest warrants for the suspects, two of whom are from Wyoming, Michigan and the other is from Grandville, Chief Hartrum said.

“Pentwater Police are continuing their investigation this morning (Thursday, July 25) into a series of shoplifting cases which occurred on July 24, 2019,” states Chief Hartrum. “The investigation began at approximately 6:30 p.m. when officers were called to the Oldewick Post, where the store owner had apprehended three female subjects.

“The store owner had received a tip from another downtown business about three suspicious subjects. The store owner observed items from Oldewick Post inside a bag and questioned the suspects. Upon questioning, things from other stores were discovered, and police were called.

“Approximately 49 items were recovered. Officers will be conducting additional investigation today (July 25) to determine exactly where the things came from and the value. It’s believed that items were taken from at least five downtown stores.”

“Downtown businesses are acutely aware of the threat shoplifters pose to their bottom line,” said Chief Hartrum. “Officers patrolling the downtown area check in with store owners to help prevent shoplifting. Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent. This case is an excellent example of how store owners can work with police to help identify and prosecute violators.”

Babbin’s gutsy response to the situation was critical in the suspects’ apprehension. I told them, ‘You can make this as easy as you want to or as difficult as you want to.'”

“I’m impressed with the businesses being able to work with us and bring about a successful prosecution,” said Chief Hartrum.

Her vigilance to protect her merchandise from theft stems from more than just ensuring her store is not victimized. When thefts occur, it affects the entire town’s economy, trickling down to taxes being taken away from the school system. “They’re stealing from more than just the shopkeepers,” she said.

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