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Gift shop targets suspected shoplifter

Terrence McEachern
Northern News Services
Published Friday, September 23, 2011

A sign at the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre is notifying the public that a Yellowknife man with a history of shoplifting authentic art from galleries and giftshops and then reselling the items on the street has been banned from the premises.

NNSL photo/graphic

Tracy Therrien, general manager of Northern Frontier Visitors Centre, holds a dreamcatcher on Wednesday, similar to one of the four stolen from the Yellowknife airport gift shop a week ago. - Terrence McEachern/NNSL photo

"He came to the store yesterday (Tuesday) and didn't come in, so the sign did its job," said Tracy Therrien, general manager of the centre. "But he was sitting on the bench and I told him to get off our property and he started cursing me out. I got scared of course, and I ran back into the centre."

So far, two moose-hair tuftings with a total value of $200 have been taken from the centre and four authentic dreamcatchers with a combined value of $400 have been taken from the airport gift shop, also managed by the centre, since the man first started showing up on Sept. 14. Therrien said she reported the incidents to the RCMP on several occasions since Sept. 16, but the man has not been charged.

"He comes into the centre and he'll be very pleasant and will familiarize himself with your place," said Therrien.

With the help of a photo taken inside the centre by a staff member, they've identified the suspect as a 45-year-old with more than 70 convictions on his criminal record.

Sally Joyce, manager of Northern Images, is also fed up with the same suspect, who she believes stole from the gallery over the past couple of months.

"It's not brand new. It's getting to the point where we are all really fed up with it ... (the shoplifter is) stealing right out of the pockets of artists," said Joyce.

A shoplifter has taken several beaded cardholders used to carry credit or debit cards valued at $500. She said witnesses have seen the suspect reselling the stolen items in the city.

Joyce said when a female employee approached the suspect one day in August about his actions, the man, described as six-foot-one-inch tall, got upset and shoved her.

Joyce remembers the last time he was in the gallery was about two weeks ago when she confronted him directly.

"I told him I understood what he was up to and he was not welcome, and at that point, he did just leave," she said. "He was not happy, he was upset. But he did leave."

After the shoving incident in the gallery, Joyce filed a complaint with the Yellowknife RCMP on Aug. 30; although she didn't know the man's name at the time.

Therrien is pleading with tourists and city residents to be mindful when they are buying art on the street, that it could be stolen.

Therrien is also interested in getting the stolen items back, even if she has to buy the items back for the amount paid on the street.

Const. Kathy Law of the Yellowknife RCMP confirmed that the police received a complaint of a suspicious person in Northern Images on Aug. 16, and that the RCMP is investigating a theft allegation at the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre.

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