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Grinch-like crime: Police search for 3 men caught on video stealing layaway items

DAYTON — Some Christmas shoppers are out of luck after thieves hit layaway storerooms at two local businesses.

Police are searching for the three men seen in surveillance video taking items out of a stockroom at a Citi Trends store.

News Center 7′s Mike Campbell spoke with investigators and employees about the Grinch-like crimes.

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“They were taking peoples layaway boxes and throwing it out the back door to someone else who was parked there,” one store employee told News Center 7.

The crew of thieves walked into the Linden Avenue store Thursday afternoon. They waited until employees were distracted with customers then snuck into a back storeroom marked employees only.

“One of the guys actually took a suitcase in to load up a bunch of stuff and took that too,” the employee said.

The store managers asked News Center 7 to protect their employees identity as police try to track down the thieves.

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The Citi Trends workers believe the men targeted them.

“He said ‘was one wearing a yellow jacket?’ I said ‘yeah’ and he said ‘well, they just got the other store,’” an employee told News Center 7,

The men came into the crowded storeroom and almost immediately tried to create more time to steal items. They began stacking boxes up against the door to provide more time.

The employees began hearing the alarm for the back door being open and headed that way as the men tossed items out to people waiting with a vehicle. They entered only a minute after the thieves ran out.

“We would have been right in the middle of it, would have been horrible because they are just horrible people,” another employee said.

The worst part of the entire crime spree is that the items the thieves took were almost all layaway purchases.

“It makes me feel terrible, I bawled my eyeballs out, I feel bad that people with those layaways in for their kids Christmas and they don’t have that anymore,” one of the employees said. “When I have to call these people and tell them their stuff is gone, I feel like I’m being the Grinch when it’s really not my fault.”

Upper management has directed store managers to inform customers that they will get a full refund for any payments made, but there is no guarantee they can replace exact items as inventory is constantly changing, like in any retail situation.

Dayton police confirmed that they are looking into two crimes sprees at the Linden Avenue and the Siebenthaler Avenue Citi Trends stores.

They say the value of the merchandise taken is high enough that anyone arrested would almost surely be facing felony charges.