Guest Op-Ed: Retail Theft Impacts Consumer and Employee Safety, Residential Quality of Life

By DA Kevin Hayden

Two women are facing shoplifting charges after police recovered approximately 200 stolen clothing items in the vehicle they used to flee after shoplifting on Newbury Street Monday, and an Everett man was charged Tuesday for stealing over $5,000 worth of designer sunglasses from Faneuil Hall Marketplace, District Attorney Kevin Hayden announced.

The shoplifting arraignments come amid an effort by Hayden’s office to work with retailers, police and the business community to increase consumer and employee safety and to help address closures of Boston stores.  Four Walgreens pharmacies have closed in the city over the last two years.

“Store-based theft, especially targeted theft by repeat offenders, is a factor we must address in our effort to provide our residents convenient access to pharmacies and other retail stores.  It’s an issue that affects quality of life for everyone and it’s an issue we’re taking seriously, both by addressing the crimes themselves and the underlying circumstances,” Hayden said.

Monet Williams, 28, of Lowell was charged with shoplifting by asportation and common and notorious thief. Kayla Harris, 29, of Mattapan, was charged with shoplifting by asportation. Judge James Coffey ordered both Williams and Harris to stay away from the Zara on Newbury Street. Both are due back in Central BMC on May 29.

At about 12:25 p.m. on April 8, Boston police responded to Zara at 212 Newbury Street for a larceny in progress. Officers were informed by a store employee that the suspects took six items worth $163.40 and then got into a navy Jeep driven by a third person and fled toward Massachusetts Avenue.

Officers conducted a traffic stop and observed the driver, later identified as Harris, the front seat passenger, later identified as Williams, and a male passenger seated in the rear driver side seat and multiple trash bags filled with clothing items.

Harris told officers they were in Zara but did not take anything and her jacket had set the alarm off. Williams told officers none of the items in the car were from Zara and she was planning to bring the clothes to a baby shower later in the day.

Officers recovered all of the stolen items described except for a white T-shirt. Officers also recovered approximately 200 additional items from the vehicle from brands such as Nike, Target, and Old Navy with price tags still attached without any receipts. These items were mostly contained in white trash bags or loosely strewn about the vehicle. A pair of wire cutters were recovered from Williams’ jacket pocket.

Williams has open cases in West Roxbury BMC and Lowell District Court, including larceny and assault and battery.

Richard Payne, 48, of Everett was charged with larceny over $1200 by single scheme and common and notorious thief as a result of an ongoing investigation into multiple larcenies from Sunglass Hut between December and April, in which 16 pairs of Versace sunglasses were stolen with a total estimated retail value of $5530.

Judge James Coffey ordered Payne held on $2,500 bail and to stay away from Sunglass Hut. Payne is due back in Central BMC on May 7.

At about 1:20 p.m. on April 8, Boston police observed Payne enter Sunglass Hut in Faneuil Hall Marketplace. As the detective walked into the store, he announced “Boston police” which caused Payne to remove the sunglasses from his pants and place them back on the display case. Payne was wearing the same distinctive pom-pom knit hat, black framed glasses, black ski-mask, and black shoes from the previous incidents.

On December 16, 2023, Payne took two pairs of Versace sunglasses and returned on December 18, 2023, and took two more pairs, with a retail value of $1,444. Payne was seen wearing the same shoes, backpack, glasses, and ski-mask on both days.

On January 14, Payne was seen walking into the store with a multi-colored knit hat, a black ski-mask, black shoes and black glasses holding a notebook. Payne took three pairs of Versace sunglasses and returned on January 16, and took four more pairs, totaling $2,482 worth of stolen merchandise. 

On March 30, Payne was seen wearing a multi-colored knit hat with a pom-pom on top, and a black ski-mask, black glasses and clothing and took three pairs of sunglasses, worth $975.

Police recovered two pairs of sunglasses, worth over $600 from the April 8 incident.

Police also recovered a multi-colored knit cap with a pom-pom, a black ski-mask, a dark colored backpack, a notebook, a gray and black jacket, and black glasses from Payne, all items he was seen wearing during the previous reported incidents.  

Payne has a 29-page board of probation record dating back to 1992 with numerous larceny and shoplifting convictions.

Hayden’s office is working with regional retailer groups and small business owners to discuss safety concerns and to help store managers strategize responses to shoplifting and retail larcenies. The meetings have come amid increasing national and local frustrations around retail crime, along with concerns over the closure of stores serving minority communities in Boston.

“We want shoppers to feel safe going into stores and we want retailers and their employees to feel safe in their work environments.  Many consumers still enjoy an in-store shopping experience and we want to help retailers continue to provide it to them,” Hayden said. 

All charged individuals are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden’s office serves the communities of Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop, Mass. The office handles over 20,000 cases a year. More than 160 attorneys in the office practice in nine district and municipal courts, Suffolk Superior Court, the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court, and the Boston Juvenile Courts. The office employs some 300 people and offers a wide range of services and programs to serve anyone who comes in contact with the criminal justice system. This office is committed to educating the public about the services we provide, our commitment to crime prevention, and our dedication to keeping the residents of Suffolk County safe.

Kevin Hayden is the District Attorney representing Suffolk County.

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