Teodor Dinov and Tsvetelina Kosova of Bulgaria wheeled their luggage into the Vineyard Haven Stop & Shop last week and asked a store employee an unusual question. Was there a scale in the store they could use to weigh their bags?
The couple said they were concerned their luggage might exceed the airline weight limits and they would have to pay additional fees for their flight home, an employee said. As it turned out, it didn’t matter. Island police lightened their load for them.
Tisbury Police Detective Mark Santon told The Times that he and Special Officer Mike O’Rourke arrested the couple on Tuesday, August 27, on charges of shoplifting toiletries, clothing, and knick-knacks from stores in Vineyard Haven, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs totaling more than $1,000 in value.
Detective Santon gave credit for the outcome to sharp observation by Brendan Collins, who works in loss prevention for Stop & Shop — and a little luck. He said Mr. Collins first saw the couple shoplift an item on a video surveillance camera at the Edgartown Stop & Shop store that morning, but was unable to catch up with them before they left the store.
However, by coincidence, Mr. Collins just happened to be working at the Vineyard Haven Stop & Shop store later that afternoon, when the same couple showed up, wheeling the same luggage. Mr. Collins observed them on several video surveillance cameras located around the store as they filled up one of their bags with about $242 of merchandise, mostly toiletry items.
Mr. Collins alerted the Tisbury Police, then approached the couple before they left the store and asked them to stay until Detective Santon and Officer O’Rourke walked over from the nearby police station.
Detective Santon said the pair admitted to Mr. Collins that they took the items from the Vineyard Haven Stop & Shop. They also produced a number of other items from their bags, including clothing worth about $200, which they admitted taking from Basics on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluff. They also had items worth about $200 they said they took from the Corner Five Surf Company in Oak Bluffs and knick-knacks from some stores in Edgartown.
After arresting the couple Detective Santon gave the undamaged clothing taken from Basics to Oak Bluffs Special Officer Benjamin Ford, who returned it to the store. He also gave items thought to be taken from Edgartown stores to Edgartown Police Detective Sergeant Chris Dolby, which turned out to be from Corner Five and were returned.
“So out of everything taken, everything was returned to the respective stores,” Detective Santon said.
On the day of their arrest and release from jail, Mr. Dinov and Ms. Kosova told detective Santon they were planning to fly back to Bulgaria on Thursday.
Mr. Santon told the couple they had better change their plans because they would have to appear in court on Thursday for their arraignment.
“I told them to make sure they showed up so they wouldn’t have warrants generated, because that would definitely make their travel plans harder,” Detective Santon said.
Mr. Dinov, 21, and Ms. Kosova, 22, were each arraigned on August 29 on a single count of shoplifting by Edgartown District Court Judge H. Gregory Williams. On Friday, they pled guilty and were fined $450, according to Detective Santon.
According to airfarewatchdog.com, overweight baggage fees range from $50 to $200, depending on the bag’s weight and the airline.