Update: Got a call from Grady McKenzie. Read the update after the jump.
Original post: Dealers at the Mission Road Antique Mall are on high alert for shoplifters since the moussed mischief of one Grady McKenzie came to light last month.
McKenzie, a Leawood hairstylist with a taste for frou-frou Staffordshire pottery, has allegedly been lifting pieces from the antique mall right under the noses of dealers and security cameras since January.
According to the mall's general manager, Casey Ward, a staffer first noticed the man carrying pieces of pricey English pottery as she was helping other customers on January 23. Once the staffer was free, she visited the dealer's booth where the piece had been displayed. It was missing, but its price tag was there, crunched on the floor.
The observant staffer saw the same man exiting the antique mall on February 13, again
carrying some antiques. When she approached him, he told her that he'd bought the pieces, but that turned out to be false, according to Ward. Meanwhile, dealers reported that five Staffordshire figurines had disappeared.
A review of the security-camera footage from February 13 revealed that the man had been in the mall twice that day but changed clothes between visits. The antique mall staff sent the security-camera footage to Prairie Village Post blogger Jay Senter, who posted this video (below) and a plea to the public to identify the alleged thief.
The following day, a fellow Mission Antique Mall dealer was checking her Facebook page while on vacation and saw the security footage posted online. She recognized the man in the video as her former hairstylist and called Prairie Village police.
Police visited McKenzie's home and confronted him. According to Ward, he admitted the theft. Police ultimately recovered eight stolen Staffordshire pieces from the 42-year-old man's collection, each priced between $295 and $595.
Ward reports that the mall has banned McKenzie from the property. McKenzie was charged with theft on February 24 and is due to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Thursday, according to the Johnson County Sheriff's Department.
Ward sums it up nicely in her monthly newsletter, which this month is titled "To Catch a Thief." She writes, "This particular guy seemed an unlikely suspect -- he was friendly and well-groomed. Obviously, you cannot judge a thief by his 'cover.'"
I've left a message at the salon that McKenzie lists as his employer on Facebook and will update if I hear from him.
Meanwhile, let this be a lesson, retailers: Trust no one. Even if their hair is fabulous.
Update: McKenzie called this morning to say, through tears and sniffles, "I'm paying for this inside. I am tore up. If I knew what to do, I would. I am sick about this whole thing."
He says he's in therapy twice a week and is doing some serious soul-searching. He's afraid that he could lose his job. "I knew right from wrong," McKenzie says. "My journey is my journey. We all make bad choices. I'm doing what needs to be done to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else."
McKenzie deserves credit for returning my call, which took some guts, so cut the guy some slack in the comments. He's already beating himself up plenty. "No one can tell me anything I haven't told myself," McKenzie says. "No one can judge me but God."