Antiques store owner confronted thief; police still investigating incident
MANCHESTER - The co-owner of an antiques store on Elm Street wants criminals to know her shop is no easy target and that a thief was thwarted last Tuesday when he tried to get away with a tray of collectible coins.
Debra Mancini said she was suspicious of the man who came into Antiques on Elm, 321 Elm St. shop, diagonally across the street from Market Basket, about 2 p.m.that day. She approached him after seeing him at a vendor's coin display case and asked him if he needed help.
The man, she said, asked if they had any cigarette cases. She told him they didn't and he walked away.
Still leery of him, Mancini said she flagged down another worker with instructions "to stay on him" because she didn't trust him.
A few minutes later, Mancini saw him again at the coin display case. She again confronted him only this time, she said, he already had broken into the case and was dumping a tray of coins into a basket, taken from the glass case. When he saw Mancini, he immediately dropped everything, including a pair of bolt cutters, and ran out the door.
Mancini and the other co-owner chased after him and wrote down his license plate which they gave to police. Later, Mancini went to the police station and dropped off surveillance video of the incident.
Lt. Maureen Tessier said police continue to investigate the theft. The vendor did an inventory and determined that a total of 19 coins were stolen, she said. Among the coins missing are a 1932-D quarter and a 1932-S quarter, each worth $150, and a 1942-D penny worth $250.
Mancini believes the first time she approached the man he already had cut the heavy chain on the display case.
She does not believe a woman, who was in the area and had been in the store for about 30 minutes, had anything to do with the theft. Originally, police said it appeared the woman may have been with the man.
Mancini, however, said the woman was at the display case after the man ran out of the store. Mancini told her to leave the area because the store had just been robbed and the woman handed her a tray of coins. Mancini believes the woman was trying to be helpful.
Tessier said Mancini asked the woman to open her purse so she could look inside it. The woman complied. Mancini did not find anything in it and the shopper left the store.
"Was she (the shopper) involved or not? We don't know," Tessier said.
As a precaution, Mancini said she wrote down the woman's license plate number and gave that to police as well.
The thief is described as a 5-foot-9 white man in his 40s, slightly overweight, with brown hair. He was wearing a baseball hat with "NYC" on the front and a dark jacket with gray on the shoulders.