View Full Version : A thief with taste sets sights on Publix

01-06-2008, 05:23 PM
A thief with taste sets sights on Publix
Genteel shoplifter has hit North Port store, perhaps more than once



NORTH PORT -- It is North Port's version of "The Thomas Crown Affair," but here the thief wears a Heron Creek polo shirt and khaki shorts.

Police are looking for a tall, well-groomed, 50-ish man who is suspected of using his affluent appearance to shoplift from the Publix supermarket on U.S. 41, perhaps more than once. The mystery man was nearly caught Christmas Eve by a store manager in the parking lot. He ditched his loaded cart, which included champagne, cooked shrimp, cheese logs and sopressata.

On the night of his near-capture, the man ran from the store onto Sumter Boulevard, putting him within a mile of the manicured lawns of the Heron Creek Golf & Country Club.

The man had attempted to steal almost $300 in items from Publix, including Ferrero Rocher chocolates and a copy of Best of Fine Cooking magazine.

"In reality, anybody can probably go to the pro shop and buy one of those shirts," said Heron Creek resident Bruce Henry, who characterized the caper as "funny, but not that funny."

The scheme was elegant: Wear a lime green polo shirt bearing the name of a well-known gated community; bring shopping bags, in the guise of being environmentally savvy; fill up the cart; saunter out the front door, bypassing the row of cash registers.

Publix thinks he has done it before, a manager told police. She had seen him in the store once before, and suspected him of shoplifting but did not call the police.

"I'd be curious to know what his story is," said North Port Police Chief Terry Lewis, noting that the grocery store has declined to prosecute, leaving the matter a low priority for area law enforcement.

"It's amazing to see people that can well afford it that can go and steal stuff," Lewis said. "In this case, I just think he is a common thief."

Last modified: January 06. 2008 12:00AM