Quick action at Duncan’s Big Scoop ice cream shop stopped two counterfeiters cold on Sunday.
Store owner Gord Heppell tells the story.
A middle-aged man and a younger woman appeared in the shop July 22, about 8:30 p.m. and tried to use a Canadian $20 bill and a $50 bill that turned out to be counterfeit. The attempted crime was spotted by a couple of Heppell’s employees, and he stepped in.
“I said, ‘Don’t move, I need to get some photos of you’, which I did. The RCMP were notified. They came down.”
“The potential criminals knew what they were doing,” Heppell said. “They had a stack of that money. I took it from them to give to the RCMP.”
“They were so nonchalant, it was unbelievable. I took the $50 and he also had a $20 in his hand, and I said, ‘Where did you get this from?’ When he said, ‘Oh, my friend, my friend’, I knew it was a scam. He said, ‘I’m on my phone trying to get hold of him.’ I said, ‘let’s phone the police and we’ll try to get your money back for you.’ It was a delaying tactic. The [store] was full and all. The police got good pictures of him. I circulated them around the others businesses as well.”
Heppell said he understands that owners like him are targets of these scams.
“It is what it is. But we’ve all got to be on our toes and, thank God, my staff gives 110 per cent. We have over 600 people a day through this ice cream shop, and it’s a lot of transactions. I was very impressed with my staff.”
Sgt. Pam Bolton, communications officer for the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP said that Mounties have not made an arrest yet.
However, Heppell expects that the police will soon be able to round up the pair.
“They knew they were guilty. I phoned 9-1-1. The police will have a trail on ‘em pretty fast. If you’re on foot in downtown Duncan there aren’t many places you can run and hide. And they didn’t run. They walked away slowly. I thought it was handled extremely well. I was quite impressed.
“Plus, all the other merchants were on the alert as well. The thing is to have your staff trained. And then exercise your rights as a business owner. I was over the moon with the two girls [employees].”
There are many sets of eyes that can help with information, Heppell said.
“We see the downtown street people all day long, too. They’ve all become our friends. When they get a few dollars they come in and buy the ice cream. They don’t steal nothing. If we get extra stuff, we give it to them. And then they tell us, ‘Oh, Gord, watch out for that one. Don’t let him in your store.’ You know what? If you work with these downtown people, they become your friends. They don’t rob me, don’t steal from me. You’ve got to go outside and engage with the consumer. It’s the best thing I ever did. Keep your eyes open. It’s worked. Everytime we see something, we alert everyone in the downtown core.
“We’re the new ears and eyes for downtown. You realize we’re open till one in the morning on Fridays and Saturdays, so we see stuff. We’ve got people outside all the time. Even at midnight, there are families out here.”