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Customers, employees team up to catch shoplifting suspect

POULSBO — When Bonita Doerksen, owner of Coast Do It Best Hardware on 7th Avenue, approached a woman who had been witnessed shoplifting, Doerksen said she never expected to get in a "tussle."

Charlotte J. Bliss, 47, of Quilcene, is charged in Kitsap County District Court with second-degree robbery, after allegedly shoplifting at the hardware store April 18.

A customer told Doerksen he saw Bliss put items in her purse, and "couldn't leave the store with a good conscious without letting [Doerksen] know," she said. Doerksen said when Bliss approached the register, Bliss paid for one item, but Doerksen said she saw Bliss's purse "bulging" with unpaid items. When Bliss headed for the door, Doerksen went to her and asked if there were receipts for the items in her purse. Bliss allegedly denied she had anything in her purse.

"I put my hand on the handle of her purse and she turned around and swung at me," Doerksen said. Doerksen yelled for her employees to call the police; customers in the store had called 9-1-1 as well.

"I know my customers, I'm very thankful to them for helping me, I couldn't have done it without [them]," she said.

Bliss then reportedly ran toward the Dogfish Creek ravine and left her purse in the bushes. A customer followed Bliss out of the store and retrieved the purse.

By this time, Doerksen said, Poulsbo Police had arrived and apprehended Bliss. According to the report, $189.37 worth of items from the hardware store were found in the purse, without receipt. Bliss allegedly told police "she did have mental issues but did not have any medication."

"In my 18 years [owning the hardware store], in my 30 years in retail, I have never encountered anything like this," Doerksen said. She said when confronted with shoplifting, most people either drop the bag and run or realize they're caught.

Doerksen said one thing she would do differently is call the police when she first suspected Bliss of shoplifting.

"The police [came] pretty quickly, but it was still about six minutes, in that time she could have had a knife or something," Doerksen said.

 

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