Tulsa Store Manager Tired Of Shoplifters, Vandals
TULSA, Oklahoma - A Tulsa store manager said it's a daily battle dealing with shoplifters who walk out of her store with whatever they can carry.
That turned into a dangerous situation Sunday, when vandals swept chemicals off the shelf, leaving a cloud of fumes building in the store that the fire department HAZMAT team had to clean up.
Cheri Chewning said she is tired of people constantly shoplifting and harassing her employees.
“Vandalism, if I tell them to get out the store, I escort them out, they kick my car. This is my third set of tires since October,” Chewning said.
She's the manager of a small store where she said the daily problems took a terrible turn last Sunday.
Four teenagers went in the store, and in just a few minutes, set off some cans of spray paint and hair spray, then, they dumped bleach and ammonia on the floor.
The combination created a dangerous cloud of fumes.
"Maybe someone can identify them, the parents or someone, but vandalizing the store is one thing, but the chemicals, that could have put a lot of people in danger," Chewning said.
The fire department cleaned up the mess and no one was hurt, but the store had to be closed for half a day.
The mostly neighborhood customers didn't have a close place to shop; and it's that threat to her good customers - and employees - that upsets her the most.
"When I'm closed they don't get their food and medicine, because they can't get there, the next one is two miles down the road," said Chewning.
The surveillance video also shows a man holding the door open for the teens, then disabling a bell on the door.
The teens were ordered out and they left; but it was another in a long string of petty thefts and vandalism that's left the store manager just tired of it.
"Not only did they vandalize, but they stole because they used my product to do it, and this makes our prices go up and then, eventually, I have less employees because I can't afford to pay them," Chewning said.
She is hoping someone recognizes the four teens and calls police; but she's also hoping the community will do more to not tolerate the low-level crime that, over time, can jeopardize livelihoods and even the existence of neighborhood stores.