Witnesses: Senior citizen steals sword at Eau Claire thrift sale

By: Joe Nelson Email
By: Joe Nelson Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - A summertime tradition went sour Friday morning after witnesses said an 83-year-old woman stole a sword from an Eau Claire thrift sale.

At a sale on Skeels Avenue, owners said the woman hid a $60 sword by her side and got in her car without paying. The owner confronted her and she admitted to taking it and that she'd stolen items before, he said.

The owner called police but the woman later decided to pay for it, and he told officers not to arrest her.

Police said they haven't seen any similar crimes, but many likely go unreported. They suggest having extra people watching customers, and keeping valuables secured.

Local buyers and sellers say they were surprised, but that there's a valuable lesson to learn.

"You would think that an 83-year-old woman would know better," shopper Jesse Yang said.

"You know the old saying the hand is quicker than the eye, that's true," shopper Joshua Plunkett said.

"People let it go because it's a garage sale, and it's not a business," Plunkett said. "Yes it's stuff they want to get rid of, but at the same time, you're putting in the time and the energy, so you gotta protect it."

The owner said the woman's only reason for taking the sword, was that she's had a hard life.


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  • by Same Boat on Jul 2, 2012 at 08:38 PM
    We had a camera and some rings stolen from ours a couple weeks before. And the thing is, we would have negotiated on the price if they had just bothered to ask. "Hard Life" that's laughable, just as silly as saying people have thrift sales just for giggles. It takes a lot of work, time and effort to have a thrift sale. We are not doing all that to just give the stuff away, if that was the case, we would donate it to one of the many second hand stores in the community and skip the headache! Some of us do it to make a little extra fun money, some for tuition, some for rent and necessities even. Think about it.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 2, 2012 at 09:04 AM
    What I love is the people that feel the need to swap around your price tags. Really you can't pay $2 for something but you can pay the $1 tag that you just swapped around? I guess you need the money more than I do.
  • by JO Location: FC on Jul 1, 2012 at 10:30 PM
    Our charity had to have volunteers assigned to watch people to prevent theft at every event we had. You'd be surprised what people try to get away with and don't think anything of stealing from charities or anyone else.
  • by Anonymous Location: Eau Claire on Jul 1, 2012 at 06:17 PM
    I spoke with someone at the sale after it happened and this was not a case of picking on an older individual. It was a case of this woman coming to the sale the day before and hanging out for an hour or so. So what did she steal that day. Her husband was parked at the end of the driveway with a nice car waiting for her. She was not a frail, poor old lady. She was a thief and she wanted to buy her way out of the police coming to arrest her by paying $100 for the $60 sword. She was not sorry until she was embarrassed and humiliated. She will probably steal again.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 1, 2012 at 06:03 PM
    Stealing a sword because she had a hard life? What, had she badly needed a sword all her life to protect her farm from dragons and raiding knights from the castle two counties over? She must have had an interesting life, to list a sword under the "necessary to live" section. Or this is just a case of a person who never outgrew her sticky fingered habit.
  • by anonymous Location: Eau Claire on Jul 1, 2012 at 06:15 AM
    So here it goes back to 'entitlement' again. I've had a hard life so I'm allowed to steal things. The owner should have had the person arrested. You'd be surprised how many elderly steal things, entitled or not.
  • by Anonymous Location: Ec on Jul 1, 2012 at 04:08 AM
    I was there at the sale when it happened and they were driving a really nice car and she was not poor. She wasn't sorry til the guy called the cops.
  • by Baffled on Jul 1, 2012 at 03:36 AM
    Old lady sticky fingers needs to go to the clink for awhile. What in the world was she planning on doing with a sword anyway?
    • reply
      by Tom on Jul 1, 2012 at 07:44 PM in reply to Baffled
      EC county would never put some one in jail for such a petty crime-
      • reply
        by And on Jul 2, 2012 at 01:21 PM in reply to Tom
        If they did, the same people saying "throw her in jail" would be screaming about having our taxes pay for her food, housing, etc. for that week, or month, or whatever. And those same people would ALSO be at issue with the sentence - probably that it was not harsh enough. Some people don't want to see the faults in their own lives so they criticize EVERYONE else.
  • by pjll on Jun 30, 2012 at 08:06 AM
    Why does an 83-year steal a sword because she has a hard life? Steal clothes, food, stuff ya can use. Perhaps her family needs to step up to the plate. Someone call social services.
  • by Senior Person Location: Eau Claire on Jun 30, 2012 at 06:33 AM
    People over the age of 'whatever' are not above breaking the law either. It's about ethical behavior for anyone. This person paid up only because she was caught!
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