Thieves hit retail shops in Vail Village
April 3, 2014
VAIL — Several Vail Village businesses were taken by surprised this weekend when shoplifters made off with some high-dollar furs, then seem to have skipped town.
On Saturday, the Dennis Basso boutique in the Four Seasons reported to the Vail Police Department that someone had stolen a sable fur coat valued at $95,000.
According to police, the male was described as a tall, thin white male speaking in an eastern European language and believed to be approximately 50 years of age. The female was described as a shorter white female with dark brown hair and is believed to be in her mid-20s. Police are asking for the public's help with any information regarding the suspects.
“It worries me a little bit because when something gets stolen in Denver, their pictures are on the news. Here, no one knows. I think we need to do something as a town.”
Blitz Boutique owner
Dennis Basso store manager Polina LaConte said it was a quiet day at the store when a couple came in and started shopping. The woman seemed interested in a coat, but the man seemed in a hurry to leave and said they would come back.
The couple returned later that afternoon and began seriously inquiring about a particular coat, asking LaConte if the woman could get a better price on the item.
"They looked like every other client," said LaConte. "Now that I think about it, they were a little unusual in that they didn't talk to each other at all when shopping, but I didn't think anything of it. I came back and told him the price, and they acted confused with the numbers, wanting me to convert to Euros."
She said the man had been walking around the store while the woman was trying on coats. After LaConte told him the new price, he suddenly told the woman they had to go and left abruptly.
"Usually for us after trying on the coat and looking at the prices, that's a sale. I looked at my coworker and said, 'What happened here?'" remembered LaConte. "I put the coat back and realized the one coat was missing. It had been about 10 minutes."
On Monday, after investigating the Dennis Basso incident, police discovered that there had been another similar theft that happened on Sunday at Fantasia Furs on Bridge Street.
Someone had taken a $50,000 sable fur coat, and the incident was caught on security footage. Since there was no video from Dennis Basso, police said they are not sure that the incidents are related.
According to Fantasia Furs owner Sue Adams, a couple came into the store and began looking around. The woman came to the counter and purchased some earmuffs while the man was browsing behind a rack. They walked out with the coat stuffed under his coat without setting off any alarms.
It wasn't until the next day that Adams noticed that the fur was gone and called the police. They later found the security tag stashed under a hat in the store.
"He just stuffed it under his jacket and walked right out. They were definitely professionals," said Adams.
She said she plans to look into a new security tag system and that they will rearrange the store to eliminate blind spots and improve the staff's ability to survey the store.
If you have any information on the whereabouts or identity of the suspects pictured, call Detective Rusty Jacobs at 970-479-2209.
Creating a security system
In another incident, two 20-something women are suspected to have shoplifted a pair of pants from Blitz Boutique on Meadow Drive, but the two were apprehended by police later the same day. Owner Barbara Smith said that as soon as employees realized something was missing, they called up other shops, warning them to be on the lookout.
"We have a system where we call like stores and just let them know — and this is how we caught them," Smith said.
The women entered Perch, which is just down the street, about an hour later. Perch employees had been warned about possible shoplifters. They had not taken anything at Perch, but store manager Kaitlin DiVenere recognized the women from the description, called Blitz to confirm, then called the police.
Smith said she'd like to see some sort of system that would alert all businesses in the Vail Village when there are theft incidents.
"We have our own system because we have good relationships with the businesses," Smith said. "It worries me a little bit because when something gets stolen in Denver, their pictures are on the news. Here, no one knows. I think we need to do something as a town."
The stores involved said that shoplifting is a rare occurrence, but it does happen. Fantasia Furs had a mink shoplifted three or four years ago. DiVenere said Perch has had a few pairs of shoes shoplifted earlier in the season.
"It's tough in this town because people are in and out so quickly," he said. "In retail there's so many things that easily walk out that you have to keep track."
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and firstname.lastname@example.org.