The owners of Simpli Glamorous Boutique sad the theft happened late Monday afternoon inside their store on First and Herndon. They didn't realize they were robbed until after they rolled back the surveillance video to take a closer look.
The store now hopes by sharing pictures and video with its more than 16,000 Facebook friends, someone will recognize the persons they said ripped off their store and deter others from doing the same.
Action News blurred their faces in the video because police haven't yet named them as suspects, but manager Donna Yparrea is convinced three ladies, in their early to mid-twenties, came into her store and at least one of them was caught on camera making off with some of the boutique's most expensive merchandise.
"She was kind of just looking and she grabbed something, we found the hanger back there. She grabbed something and then I saw her put it in, throwing it in as she was walking away," said Yparrea.
Yparrea admitted she didn't see the crime in action, but says one of the store's new security cameras did. The video shows one of the ladies talking with the clerk at the counter as another makes her way to the opposite corner. She said you can see the young woman eventually stuff a sweater in her purse.
"We had been hit several times and other boutiques have so we just got tired of being the victim," she said. "We decided if someone was going to shoplift us we were going to get them on camera."
The store also decided to not only turn the video over to police, but broadcast it online.
"We had several people say since you have such great pictures of these girls shopping, maybe they would want to be on camera so we decided to share the pictures to see if anyone knew them," she added.
Since posting the photos on Facebook, the store has received hundreds of shares and comments from customers claiming to know who the girls are.
"We have their names, we actually have their cell phone numbers and we know a lot about them already so I'm sure the police will get into contact with them very soon," said Yparrea.
Police couldn't comment on the case because it's early in the investigation, but said more businesses are installing surveillance systems and are using social media as a tool to combat crime."
"Even the small Mom and Pop shops are going to video because, one, it's a great deterrent especially when people know they're on video and know they're being watched and, two, it's a great after-the-fact. They can go my gosh this is where my property went," said Fresno Police Retail Crimes Detective Brendan Rhames.
Rhames wants to remind store owners to contact the police department before posting the video online.
"I think social media is a great tool to use and we should use it," said Rhames. "I just encourage people to, if it's an investigation and they're a victim of crime, get a hold of me first before we put things out there and let me take a look at it to see what we've got."
In the meantime, the store says it's had several other boutiques contact them since posting the video and believe the ladies could be linked to other crimes.
"I've had two other boutiques, one in Kingsburg and one it River Park, that recognized them from being in their store, one of them yesterday," said Yparrea.
When asked whether posting the video to Facebook was worth the risk, Yparrea said, "Very well worth it because they're not going to get us anymore."