Breaking News
More () »

Store owner tracks alleged shoplifter to Mardi Gras ball to reclaim dress

After shoplifters took thousands in merchandise, the owner of The Red Carpet took matters into their own hands to track down a stolen $600 dress.

NEW ORLEANS -- The Red Carpet on Magazine Street is packed with thousands of beautiful gowns.

Carnival Season is one of the busiest times of the year for owner, Dawn Michelet. She said this year was particularly busy, since Carnival started so quickly after the holidays.

"You know, it went from Christmas and I blinked my eyes and it was a week before Carnival," Michelet said.

She takes pride in helping customers pick out the perfect dress, but this year, she also had her hands full spotting shoplifters.

"They just distract you. They separate. They break up," she said, describing incidents she's seen in her store. "They pull the sales girl to the side and then somebody runs out the door with the dress."

During the month of February, she lost seven dresses in just two weeks.

"It's crippling. You can't stay in business if you're losing $8,000 every two weeks," Michelet explained.

But there was one incident she found particularly frustrating. She said a woman came in and fell in love with a $600 blue-beaded gown.

"She told me where she was going. She told me that she needed it tonight," Michelet said. "She told me she didn't have time to do alterations. So, I looked at her body and I fit her."

After that, Michelet said the customer just walked out the door with the dress.

"She was the straw that broke the camel's back. I was so angry," Michelet said.

But she had one helpful piece of information. The woman told her where she planned on wearing the dress-- the Treme Sidewalk Steppers annual ball.

"She showed up that evening and was waiting like a bird dog waiting to pounce as soon as she saw those dresses," said Xavier Police Chief Jacques Battiste

The ball was held at the Convocation Center at Xavier University.

Michelet approached University Police Chief Jacques Battiste about her situation and he quickly agreed to help.

"We did a little investigative work and she told us that the persons who had stolen the dresses said they were coming to the function that night. How smart on their part," Battiste said.

Michelet spotted her dress just after 1 a.m., and she snapped photos as the NOPD made the arrest. New Orleans Police identify the shoplifter as 26-year-old Shanice Angela Craig. And Michelet identified the dress.

"It's a Primavera Couture. It's a size 22, and I gave him the style number," she said. "And the tag is in the dress. The Red Carpet tag!"

Since this happened, Michelet has improved security at the store by installing better cameras and hiring a security guard on the weekends when the store gets busy. She also has a message for would-be shoplifters.

"I wanted people to know, if you steal from me, I'm coming for you, at your event, in front of everybody," she said.

The NOPD is currently investigating several different shoplifting cases that happened at the Red Carpet. Chief Battiste says Shanice Craig-- the woman arrested at the ball-- has given them information they used to track down a second shoplifter. Anyone with information in these cases can contact the NOPD's 6th District or CrimeStoppers.

Before You Leave, Check This Out