The woman who entered the Rustic Rhinestone last Wednesday afternoon caught store owner Melody Pollard’s attention.
“She seemed so sweet and friendly,” Pollard recalled. The shopper wore sequined flip-flops that Pollard and her mother and co-owner, Lorie Pollard, complimented her on.
They didn’t know it at the time, but the woman previously had been to Caylor Creek. Managers there would later report that a pair of flip-flops identical to those the woman was wearing had been stolen. The woman, they said, had placed her own shoes in the flip-flop box.
While still in the Rustic Rhinestone, Pollard said the woman “really chatted us up. She said she and her husband came to Glen Rose every year and she said we were her favorite store.”
“I gave her the benefit of the doubt,” Pollard said.
Then Pollard spied the woman grabbing a new cap and trying to stuff it in her bag. But when the woman saw Pollard watching her, she tossed the cap back.
As the woman talked with Lorie Pollard, Melody Pollard went to the front door and jotted down the license plate number from the shopper’s white Ford Focus. The previous month someone had stolen a display full of rings from the store on the same day it had received — but not yet installed — a video surveillance system. Pollard was on guard.
The woman then told Pollard that her husband was asleep and she had to go wake him up at the motel. After she left, Pollard looked outside and said she saw the woman sitting in her car and holding up a piece of clothing that had come from the Rustic Rhinestone — and that she hadn’t paid for.
“She was grinning from ear to ear,” Pollard said. She also noticed that the necklace was missing.
Five or 10 minutes later, Pollard got a call back. Sgt. Richard Talavera had stopped the woman’s car on Big Bend Trail between the Dollar General and the Pronto convenience store. He discovered merchandise in the car.
“They had it all spread out on the hood,” Pollard said.
She had arrived at the scene of the traffic stop and said she identified picture frames, jewelry and clothing that belonged to the Rustic Rhinestone. The woman denied she had stolen anything, Pollard said. But at the woman’s motel, officers found more merchandise.
Pollard said she recognized some of the merchandise from her store, but other items she recognized from Caylor Creek and Cheerful Hearts.
The Rustic Rhinestone valued its stolen property at $149.45, while Caylor Creek reported $281.45 in stolen property — including rhinestone-studded key rings, clothing and the flip-flops — and Cheerful Hearts reported $567 in stolen property, offense reports show. The total for the three shops came to almost $1,000.
The sheriff’s department said 53-year-old Laura Nell Johnson of Grand Prairie was arrested for theft and for possession of marijuana. She was booked into the Somervell County Jail and released Thursday on two $1,500 bonds.
“It’s a shame because she seemed like such a sweet lady,” Pollard said. “It really opened my eyes.”