Metro-East News

Pet store once again takes to social media to find suspected shoplifters

A colorful business in O’Fallon once again turned to its faithful followers on Facebook to identify two suspected shoplifters.

The Tye-Dyed Iguana posted screen shots Wednesday from video surveillance of a man and woman with the text “It’s time to make some fools famous again!”

“When we catch a shoplifter, this is how we typically handle it,” said shop owner Matt Smallheer. “We involve the entire community.”

The post claimed the two shoplifted from the store Sunday and asked anyone who might be able to identify them to call the store. Smallheer estimates the pair took less than $300 worth of merchandise. He has 32 cameras in the store, and spent hours reviewing the videos before calling police.

Dozens of Tye-Dye fans responded, and within two hours had Facebook profiles of a man and woman. The woman responded with a public message to Tye-Dye that she was sorry and would be turning herself in to police. Smallheer says she also called him and asked for the post to be taken down.

“I don’t care if you were drunk, don’t care if you were on drugs. A, don’t steal; and B, don’t steal from your friends,” Smallheer said.

Smallheer says he was not in the store when the thefts occurred. He recognized the woman as a longtime customer who has come to the store since she was a child. He says that was part of the reason she and others with her perused the store for 45 minutes without store assistance.

“We can trust her; she’s just hanging out,” he said. “She used that to her advantage.”

They went “shelf to shelf,” Smallheer said, adding he saw no evidence on video that they stole from the hydroponic side of the store.

“They even took a moment to go out to their car and empty their pockets and come back in,” he said.

O’Fallon police confirmed that a person is expected to come to the department, and the other “is not going to be hard to get” because he was in custody on an unrelated charge.

The News-Democrat does not identify suspects by name until charges have been filed.

This isn’t the first time the store has taken to social media to catch a shoplifter. In February 2017, they offered a $100 reward for information about a boa constrictor that was stolen when a man slid it into his pocket.

An arrest was made shortly after and the snake was recovered.

“We have a hell of a following out there,” Smallheer said.