It’s no secret that local, independent businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but some local businesses, it seems, have been hit hard in more ways than one.
Amanda Stewart, owner of Amanda’s House of Elegance on lower Princess Street in the downtown core, recently took to social media with a photo obtained from her video surveillance system of a woman believed to have been behind the theft of nearly $1,000 worth of jewelry from the store. Her hope is that someone might be able to identify the woman.
According to Stewart, the theft occurred at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jul. 11, 2021, when the accused woman stole an entire display case holding $777 worth of gold-plated rings. Stewart circulated the photo of the woman to other stores in the area, but unfortunately (or “fortunately?” as Stewart said), none of the other businesses were familiar with the woman.
“If anyone knows something, please contact Kingston Police,” Stewart said on social media.
Stewart has filed a report with Kingston Police, who confirmed that the investigation into the theft is ongoing.
“It’s been so hard trying to make it through COVID and all the closures that this really hits us hard,” she said.
But further bemusing for Stewart is that this theft, albeit more brash than those that came before it, is just one incident in a long line of theft issues her business has faced during the pandemic, she explained.
“With the mask mandate we have seen an alarming increase in shoplifting in our store. Soon after masks were required, we started noticing hidden tags, empty displays, and missing items,” Stewart said. “Then we were having online orders come in, only to find out they were stolen off the floor, leaving customers upset and us… well, confused.”
After this discovery, Stewart and her team had an overnight inventory of the store’s jewelry items. In “a few short months,” the business had over $650 in thefts, just in jewelry alone, she said.
“And it didn’t stop there,” Stewart said, sadly.
It was at this point that Stewart knew she had to invest in a new security system with updated cameras placed throughout the store. That was done during the most recent lockdown as a result of the pandemic. The system had been up and running only a few short days before the latest brazen theft occurred, she relayed.
“I honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve just sobbed. I’m already treading water – we all are,” she expressed candidly.
“How could someone do this? It’s devastating. I’m devastated,” she continued.
“I can’t afford the security systems, the theft, and the abundance of unforeseen costs due to the pandemic – all the while being closed more than I am open.”
Anyone with information on the latest theft, or who may be able to identify the woman pictured in the photo obtained from surveillance cameras is asked to contact Const. Sarah Groenewegen at [email protected]ce.ca or 613-549-4660 ext. 6328. Tips can also be made anonymously by calling the Kingston Police general number (613-549-4660 ext. 0) and requesting to remain anonymous.