2018-07-19 / Front Page

Store items stolen in Suttons Bay

Search on for 2 girls
By Kelsey Pease
of the Enterprise staff


BRAIN STORM owner Michele Dansereau (right) is pictured with employee Martha Meek in front of her Suttons Bay store. Brain Storm was one of multiple stores where items were shoplifted Friday by two young girls, still at large. BRAIN STORM owner Michele Dansereau (right) is pictured with employee Martha Meek in front of her Suttons Bay store. Brain Storm was one of multiple stores where items were shoplifted Friday by two young girls, still at large. Two young girls are being accused of going on a five-finger discount shopping spree.

Employees of Brain Storm, a toy store in Suttons Bay, were the first to notice something was amiss.

“We’re connected (to Enerdyne) and the girls told people that they had paid for the plush animals on the other side as they walked out,” said Brain Storm owner Michele Dansereau. “The employees didn’t believe them. When we established exactly what had happened and had a description, I wrote up an email to notify other stores.”

Fortunately, the description was detailed enough for the girls to be identified on camera footage at Lima Bean, located across M-22.

The girls are thought to have stolen several items, although detailed information about their activities has not yet been released.

According to Sheriff Mike Borkovich, it’s common for shoplifting cases to increase during busy summer months. And while he says some steal merely for entertainment, others “do it to turn a quick buck for drugs.”

“They put on a fancy top under their clothes or stuff a bikini in their purse,” Borkovich said. “I’m always amazed with how slick they are when you see the footage.”

And that footage is crucial in determining who’s responsible, as was the case in Friday’s incident.

“Luckily Lima Bean had their cameras on,” said Suttons Bay Trading Company owner Karen Pontius. “These girls hit quite a few shops: The Front Porch, Roth Shirt Co., Lima Bean and Brainstorm.”

As president of the Suttons Bay Chamber of Commerce, Pontius is usually notified when cases of retail fraud come up. She sends an email blast to store owners to warn them.

If located, the girls could be in for serious punishment.

Borkovich said offenses can be considered either a misdemeanor or felony, primarily depending on the value of the item or items stolen.

According to the Michigan Penal Code, a first degree offense is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine of not more than $10,000 or three times the value of the property stolen.

Second or third degree offenses are categorized as misdemeanors, punishable by imprisonment for not more than one year or a fine of not more than $2,000 or three times the value of the property stolen, or imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500 or three times the value of the property stolen, respectively.

What’s best for preventing the thefts?

“Make sure that you’ve got ample employees on watch,” Pontius suggested.

Borkovich agreed.

“Watch what they’re doing,” he said. “If they’re loitering around the store, interested in everything, you can kind of tell what their motives are. Especially those that look up for video cameras. That’s a really good indicator. Unless you’re a dry waller, why else would you look at the ceiling?”

He also recommended that store owners install video surveillance and establish a steadfast policy to prosecute shoplifters.

“Post a ‘no shoplifting’ sign on the side of the front door,” Borkovich said. “I think it sends a message out that you’re not walking into careless Joe’s store.”

Danserau is on board. She plans to press charges should the girls be found.

“If they don’t get stopped young, they’ll probably do something worse,” she said.

Although Danserau said she and her employees are being more vigilant in response to the thefts, they’re not letting the incident deter them.

“It’s just a part of retail,” she said.

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