A West Kelowna small business owner is crediting her monitored alarm system with reducing the impact of a recent break in.
Esteem Lingerie located in the Westridge Shopping Centre was broken into around 5 a.m. Dec. 9. The thieves cut through the business’s door frame and pried open the door.
“Thankfully, our alarm did as it was supposed to,” said Angela O’Brien, who owns Esteem Lingerie with her mom, Florenda Pickett.
Not only did the thieves trigger the first stage alarm which was audible in the store, but also the second silent alarm which called 9-11 immediately. O’Brien said two police cars were on the scene quickly, causing the thieves to grab armfuls of panties and dash out the back.
About 70 pairs of panties were stolen. O’Brien said the store has seen a significant increase in shoplifting since about July. “We know it was a little ring, because they were always stealing the same type of stuff, in the same size ranges and it was very specific targeted,” said O’Brien.
In three months, Esteem Lingerie lost the same amount of merchandise as they had in the previous five years combined.
O’Brien and Pickett made it hard for the shoplifters to continue.
“Lo and behold, six weeks later we get broken into and it’s the same size ranges and the same stuff,” said O’Brien. “It was like a personal shopping appointment.”
O’Brien said a suspicious couple came appeared to be casing the store just before closing the night before the break-in.
The thieves weren’t able to get away with too much as they weren’t inside for long.
“Panties, while expensive, are a lot less than if they’d grabbed a whole rack of bras,” she said.
Damage from the break-in cost more than the merchandise lost.
“The whole door is going to have to be replaced and then I have to put in a few more Straight Outta Compton security measures,” said O’Brien.
The police have a list of the exact size and colour of the missing panties and will keep their eyes open.
O’Brien will keep watching for the missing merchandise on marketplace sites, but doubts the panties will be recovered. The business has good insurance.
O’Brien and her mom will be reinforcing the store’s security, making it difficult for thieves so they will move on.
During a year when many small businesses were gutted by the COVID-19 pandemic, O’Brien had been hoping to hire another employee rather than spend money on extra security.
O’Brien is part of the local Business Watch program and sent out a notification reminding other businesses to make sure their alarms are turned on and their shops secure.