Shoplifters, Scammers, and Other Challenges of Being a Cortland Merchant


It’s not easy being a merchant on Cortland Avenue.

Obviously, providing products, attracting customers, paying commercial rent, and managing the books are challenging tasks unto themselves. Yet over the last few years, as your Bernalwood editor has gotten to know many of the merchants who serve our community, I’ve also been impressed by how exasperating it can be when earning a livelihood means keeping your front door open to any random person who feels like walking in.

Neighbor Darcy from Heartfelt on Cortland shared this story — and a surveillance camera video — of a shoplifter who recently swiped some of her merchandise:

In the video, you can clearly see the young woman who shoplifts. The young lady with the tan cardigan, red scarf, and green purse looks around the room and pick up two Corkcicle-brand thermoses. At 02:09 she puts one in her purse, and at 02:52 she adds the second one to her purse, after which she quickly exit the store with a companion. We think the video speaks for itself.

Needless to say, if you recognize the perp, please stop by Heartfelt to let them know.

Meanwhile, a few blocks up the street, Neighbor JoEllen from Pinhole Coffee had her time wasted by this two-bit scammer who tried to pull the old “but wait, I gave you a $20 bill” trick:


JoEllen says:

The gentleman shown here has been trying to trick cashiers into giving him more change back. During the transaction he tried to distract me by being charming, pointing to certain areas of the room and commenting on the design…blah blah blah. He then told me he gave me a $20, when clearly he gave me a $5, and asked for more change. I said “nope.”

Norman of Elsie St. came in soon after and told us he heard he’s been doing that up and down the street that day.

Ask yourself: Have you hugged a Bernal merchant today?

14 thoughts on “Shoplifters, Scammers, and Other Challenges of Being a Cortland Merchant

  1. The thermos swiping woman’s companion in also stuffing things in her purse.
    Too bad she’s wearing sunglasses, but if they work as a team they should be easy to spot.

  2. I install internet-enabled security cameras as part of my tech support work. I tell merchants all the time that the security cameras are more a DETERRENT than a means of capturing thieves and vandals. By that I mean that making the cameras visible and letting everyone know that there are cameras watching prevents the bad activities in the first place.

    Capturing thieves and vandals after the fact won’t help much because the police (rightly so) have higher priorities such as assaults, domestic violence, etc.

    Now, one of the businesses where I have cameras installed, a perp stole a laptop that a woman had casually set on a nearby table while she was chatting on her phone. A guy quickly walked by and stole it. She never got the laptop back, BUT a couple days later, a staffer who had watched the security video spotted the same perp back again, kept an eye on him, and caught him trying to steal another laptop. The staffer literally chased down the perp, tackling him, and putting him him in a choke hold. Meanwhile the police were called. The staffer could have gotten into a LOT of trouble had the perp been injured (after all the staffer had not been threatened by the perp in any way), and both the staffer and the store owner could have been sued.

    So, though it’s not attractive, I think it’s best to show monitors on or near the checkout area or near the entrance because a deterrent is the best way to cut down on theft and vandalism.

    Another alternative, and one which most retailers do, is to build the cost of theft and vandalism into the pricing.

  3. I would agree with posting these pictures ALL over Bernal, especially with every merchant on the street; I am neither detective or police officer but totally agree with the above comments about them clearly working together & needing to be stopped, by shame or otherwise…

  4. It’s funny…the description fails to list “a white women” and a “white male” are the ones committing crimes in Bernal. But, refers to them in kind word like gentlemen. Wonder what the story would be if it were a person of color committing these crimes. The bike thief a couple weeks ago, wasn’t she a white women as well?

    • One thing continues to amaze me. That is, the lengths to which people will go on this blog to make imbeciles of themselves in the pursuit of a passe PC police tactic. I always look at these takes and think to myself, “You are so incredibly fake. You likely do not have any friends who do not resemble yourself in reality.” You said, “refer to them in kind word like gentlemen” ???? not only was that incredibly poorly written, but the actual verbiage “gentlemen” was not written by the editor of this website, but by a contributor, who was a bit tongue in cheek, clearly, as the man in question is anything but a gentleman. I mean, how stupid are you? Perhaps it was a bit New York Times style, in a bit of jest, but still rather serious? But there you are, playing the race card. Even though you didn’t even fucking get the gist in the first place.

      I am so sorry to see that people like you and a few others are ruining this website with your asinine fake pc takes. Why do you need to describe the person’s ethnicity if there’s a picture, anonymous? One does not need to do so. You are the same poster who calls a person to task for describing a criminal act with precision, describing appearance, if the person happens to be of color. Get over it! Call a person what they look like, with precise inoffensive language, and do not harangue. It is nonsense what some of you clowns are doing on here, and I am sick of it.

  5. The merchants should set up a way to broadcast real time alerts to one another, perhaps with a message relay of some sort, such as the app “Yackstack.”

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