Op-shop worker tackles thief
Karen MacKenzie from the Richmond Hospice Shop does not let shoplifters go without a fight.
The store manager and former prison guard had just returned from a trip to the bank last Wednesday when she spotted a "very well-dressed man" leaving her shop.
Something about him caught her eye, and when she looked closer she thought she recognised the attractive leather jacket he was wearing.
Dashing into the store, Karen checked the racks in search of an unworn Rodd & Gunn jacket the team had priced at $150 a month earlier.
"It's a very nice Rodd & Gunn jacket made from New Zealand leather, it's probably only been worn once or twice. It would have cost at least $700 or $800 new."
She verified that counter staff had not sold the jacket and took off after the thief.
"He was over six feet and three times bigger than me but I just had to."
Karen followed him into the nearby Salvation Army Family Store, crossed the street and waited 15 minutes for him outside the Red Cross Shop to confront him.
When she asked the man if she could check his coat for the Hospice Shop's tag, the man acquiesced but refused to get into a conversation. The tag was not where she expected it to be.
"He just stared at me," Ms MacKenzie said.
"It was very intimidating and I thought, ‘What am I going to do?"
When she returned to the store empty-handed, she went over footage from the recently-installed security cameras to figure out what had happened. She said the footage showed the man entering the changing rooms wearing one jacket, and leaving wearing the Rodd & Gunn jacket.
When they checked the hangers, staff found he had attached the Hospice Shop price tag to his own jacket and left it on the rack.
The footage has been passed on to the police.
"The feelings run so high when something like this happens," Karen said.
"It's a huge blow."
Despite reporting several shoplifting incidents this year, she said she did not think the Hospice Shop was being unfairly targeted.
She said the Nelson Hospice was a charity organisation but the Hospice Shops were not, saying theft was theft no matter how cheap the item.
"We might be second-hand, but we're a second-hand business designed to make money to support the hospice."
- © Fairfax NZ News