Downtown Raleigh employees help police foil a crime

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Two downtown Raleigh employees helped police catch a shoplifter

A downtown Raleigh business owner and her employee became amateur sleuths and helped police solve a crime at a neighboring business.

Cathy Brooks, owner of Nora and Nicky's clothing store, was headed to lunch with one of her employees Saturday. As they locked the front door of the business on Hargett Street, the employee noticed a man walk out of the Deco store next door.

She thought he looked suspicious.

"He kind of just was being odd," Brooks told ABC11.

When they rounded the corner onto Salisbury Street, they saw the man duck into a doorway. As they passed by he was bent over unloading merchandise from his coat into a duffle bag.

The suspected shoplifter walking away

Brooks says her employee immediately recognized the loot.

"She was like, 'Oh, my God. He's got some stuff that's specially made, you know, Holly Aiken bags that are made only for Deco.'"

The two stopped just past the doorway and quickly hatched a plan. They decided to pretend like the employee was taking pictures of Brooks.

Soon, the man came walking up.

Brooks says he stopped when he saw the employee taking pictures.

"And she was like, 'Oh, no, you can go ahead.' So he went ahead and walked through and she just kept taking pictures."

But when she turned the camera in his direction the man confronted the employee.

"He goes, 'You taking my picture?' And she's like, 'I don't know what you're talking about,'" Brooks said.

They called Savannah Bridges who manages Deco. Bridges then called the police.

"After she described what she saw to me I was able to confirm through our inventory system that there was some bags missing," Bridges said.

Police looked at all the pictures and immediately said they recognized the man.

The man, Alphonso Bromell, is now behind bars charged with habitual theft.

This is the 28th time the 50-year-old Bromell has been arrested in Wake County in the past eight years.

He is being held on a $75,000 bond.

Bridges says she is grateful for her neighbor's actions.

"Very thankful because even though our merchandise wasn't recovered they did catch him," Bridges said.

Although somewhat risky, Brooks says she and her employee would do it all again.

"This is what, you know, brought me down her to invest in downtown Raleigh is the community," Brooks said. "That's what we do. We watch out for our neighbors. Our neighbors watch out for us. That's how it should be. Even though we are all in the same business you gotta watch out for one another."

Bridges agreed.

"It's nice to have people around that are looking out for you. And we would do the same for them as well." she said.

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