HOUSTON -- Never before have you seen a liquor store like the little shop owned by Carrie Morris.
“It’s unlike any store you’ll ever go to in Texas,” she bragged.
Walk past the bottles of booze lining the shelves along the narrow aisles and you’ll see a sign directing you to the smoke shop and sex store. Behind a partition sit displays of adult toys, smoking novelties and pornographic videos.
“I think this is the only liquor store in Texas that has a smoke shop and a sex shop all at the same time,” she said.
But it’s tough for a single mother to keep running a small business when shoplifters plunder the place. Twice in the past month, she said, the same crew of thieves struck her store and stole hundreds of dollars worth of expensive liquor.
“It’s just hard when you have this kind of theft,” she said. Surveillance video shows a group of men and women climbing out of the same vehicle in the parking lot of Drinks Liquor Store at 1830 Highway 6 South Wednesday afternoon. They split up as they enter the store, with a couple of men approaching the cash register.
“They were telling me they wanted cigarettes and all this stuff,” said Gloria Luna, the cashier behind the counter. “And I didn’t see in the back what they were doing.”
With the cashier distracted, others in the crew went to work. A woman walking along an aisle stuffed eight bottles of liquor into her purse and another bottle in her pants. A man in the same aisle is shown stuffing his pants with another bottle.
The thieves calmly walked out of the store, apparently unaware their faces had been clearly captured on the surveillance video. Morris estimates the thieves stole between $500 and $700 worth of liquor. She said the same group hit her store a couple of weeks earlier, but her video system apparently didn’t record the incident.
“We’re just trying to struggle,” Morris said. “You know, single woman with two kids, trying to get ahead. And then you got people come in like this.”
Signs hanging around the store warn thieves not about the surveillance cameras, but also about the fact that the cashier is armed. But “you can’t shoot shoplifters,” she said.
“It makes me want to sell the store,” she said. “So you know, it’s scary, really. How are they going to come in next time?”
She hopes someone will recognize the thieves’ faces and call Crime Stoppers, which pays up to $5,000 in reward money for information leading to felony arrests.