'Trail camera' helps catch alleged hardware store shoplifter

TWINSBURG, Ohio - Dennis Mulhern says a regular customer kept using a "five-finger" discount to pocket some pricey tools every week at his Twinsburg True Value Hardware store for at least a month.

Mulhern said the guy would buy something small but more items were always missing.

"Of course, he was a 'good customer,' who was always in and we were always missing stuff when he left," said Mulhern.

The store owner said catching a shoplifter in the act can get tricky.

"It's tough to actually physically catch a guy in the act, where you are standing face to face or where you would be able to watch him without them seeing you," he said.

With no security system installed yet in the store, Mulhern pulled out his "trail camera" used for deer hunting. He said hunters put the camera in the woods to see when deer come through an area.

"They are date and time stamped so that you get to know when the deer are coming through and when to hunt a certain area," he said. But this time, he was searching for a shoplifter.

"It captured him coming into this aisle and looking around. You can see him looking back and forth and getting a tool off the shelf that he ended up taking that day," he said. Mulhern called police and showed them the video.

"We have a really good database of our customers. We actually had his name and address and everything in our file so we knew exactly where to send police," he said.

Police reports show Stephen Dennis admitted to taking the tool and said it was the only time he's stolen in his life. Police arrested Denis and charged him with misdemeanor theft.

"Once someone steals from you, they will continue taking from you until you put an end to it," he said.

He is not allowed back in the Twinsburg True Value Store.

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