After thieves who made off with more than $500 in merchandise were identified on tape, a local business owner said the $600 she spent on a video surveillance camera was the best business investment she ever made.
Sally Swinamer runs her family business Riding in Style out of a small shop in Lower Sackville. Specializing in leather clothing alterations and repairs, the store also sells riding gear and clothing targeting the motorcycle community. Recently the store started selling franchise clothing from the popular American television show Sons of Anarchy about a fictitious motorcycle club.
"The show is very hot right now," she said. "And not just for bikers. We have a lot of people coming in asking about them."
When a young man came in to purchase a Sons of Anarchy jacket, Swinamer noticed one was missing. Right away she thought of two women she had seen coming into the store two days before. When she went to check the surveillance video her suspicion was confirmed. The video showed two women, one of whom had what looked like a small jacket under her arm, but then when she walked out awhile later it looked much bulkier than it did when she went in.
After calling the police, Swinamer was told an officer would be out to see them in a day or two. In the meantime, her husband decided to post the video on Facebook to see if anyone could identify the women.
RCMP spokesman Cpl. Scott MacRae said he is not surprised people are using social media, but cautions people of the potential danger in doing so. What if, for example, the people in a video are innocent, he asks.
"Facebook and Twitter are private enterprises and the authorities can't control what people choose to put up there," he said. "But people also have to know that they are assuming a risk of liability."
After seeing the surveillance video on CBC-TV coverage a number of people started calling in and identifying the women. So far, no arrests have been made.
Swinamer said she has already recouped the money she lost through this unsolicited advertising she thinks of as karma.
"We've had people come in who didn't know we were here," she said. "One lady saw the tape on the 6 o'clock news and walked in here at 6:20 to buy a shirt for her husband."
As far as the posting goes, Swinamer said she'd do it again in a minute.
"By putting this up on Facebook we're telling people we won't be picked on," she said. "We're getting the message out there that this is not a place you can steal from because we'll do something about it."