Victoria optometry store hit twice by sunglasses thieves

A Victoria optometry store that is out nearly $10,000 in high-end sunglasses and costs after two brazen thefts last week is warning other businesses to be on the lookout for the thieves.

“It’s a lot of cash for a small family-owned business,” said Mary Lou Newbold, who has owned Mayfair Optometric Clinic on Douglas Street with husband Stephen Taylor for 15 years. Taylor has practised optometry in the city for 28 years. “It feels personal,” she said.

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Newbold said surveillance video from April 15 showed a man riding up to the clinic’s front door around 4:30 p.m. on a bicycle, coming into the store, removing several pairs of name-brand sunglasses and putting them into the pockets of his hoodie and cargo pants.

Because several staff members were at a trade show with some of the store’s products, they did not realize the items were missing until the end of the day.

Newbold said the theft could clearly be seen on video surveillance.

The store reported the theft to Victoria police and stepped up their security with extra staff, in case they were hit again.

The same man returned to the store with a woman three days later, on April 18, Newbold said. By the time staff had greeted the man, the woman had allegedly removed security locks from eight pairs of sunglasses, worth more than $2,000, and the two quickly left.

“They knew what they were doing and exactly what to go for,” Newbold said, noting thefts of sunglasses are common at this time of year, but not on that scale and done so efficiently. “I think we have a responsibility to warn others about these people. The question becomes, ‘Where else are they going?’ ”

Newbold said they will have to pay an insurance deductible as well as costs to replace products and increase staff for security because of the thefts.

Staff described the man as white, about five-foot-eight with a stocky build, shaved or bald head and a neck tattoo. He was wearing a ball cap and collared shirt and carrying a large backpack. He appeared to be about 25 to 30 years old. The woman had short brown hair and appeared to be about five-foot-eight as well, and in her mid-20s. She was wearing a turquoise shirt.

There have been other reports of sunglasses thefts in recent weeks at Mayfair and Hillside Shopping Centre. Victoria police confirmed they are investigating the thefts at Mayfair Optometric Clinic.

“[We] are attempting to identify the suspect,” said spokesman Const. Mike Russell.

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