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Foster Road game store owner nabs shoplifter

COURTESY OF MATTHEW MIÄ?ETIć - The security camera shows that when the owner turns his back, the man walks out - with an obvious bulge in the back of his shirt. Looking at still images taken from their security cameras, it seems obvious that the burly man in the blue shirt who was looking over the merchandise at Red Castle Games in the Foster-Powell neighborhood really had no intention of paying for what he was selecting, on Friday evening, July 10.

After greeting thousands of customers over the past three years, store owner Matthew Mi?eti? tells THE BEE that odd behavior now always attracts his attention.

He says some people who visit his store believe they can don a “cloak of invisibility” and not be caught shoplifting.

“The vast majority of our customers are like friends, and would never think of stealing from us,” Mi?eti? reflected. “But still, we lose as much as $10,000 worth of merchandise – that’s our cost – every year. For a business our size, that’s really a huge amount of money.”

He was working behind the counter that night, Mi?eti? said, stocking a shelf, when he noticed the heavy man in blue “acting a little odd”. “We make it a point to greet customers when they come in the store, and when they leave.

“When he looked uncomfortable after I wished him a nice evening, it triggered something in the back of my mind that something was not right,” Mi?eti? said.

Then, as the man passed in by the front windows, heading east on the sidewalk along S.E. Foster Road, Mi?eti? said he saw the outline of a “perfect square sticking out” of his shirt.

“As I walked after him outside, he was pulling the book out from under his shirt,” Mi?eti? said. “I grabbed the product from him, and called 911. He was fairly cooperative at first, and then tried to get away.

“Here’s a pretty big fellow, I would guess he was about 400 pounds,” Mi?eti? went on. “I’m not exactly spry at my feet, but I was able to catch this guy. I was holding him by the belt of his pants.”

A customer saw the scuffle and came to assist. The alleged shoplifter clamed that Mi?eti? was assaulting him, and pleaded for help, but to no avail. “My customer saw me, holding the product I’d just taken from him. He told the guy, ‘We can do this the hard way, or that easy way’.”

At first, the man offered to pay for the merchandise found on his person. “Then, he played the ‘sympathy card’, saying he didn't have money and he was poor,” Mi?eti? said. But when the police searched him, he had more than $100 on him.”

The man was identified as 52-year-old John Scott Ustler, who was then arrested without incident, Mi?eti? said.

Although the alleged shoplifter was handcuffed and transported away from the scene in a district patrol car, a search of Multnomah County Detention Center so far has no record of Ustler being booked into the county jail.

Asked if he’d go after a shoplifter again, Mi?eti? thought for a moment before answering. “In the spur of the moment, I’m sure I would. If I think it over, maybe not. There is no merchandise here worth getting hurt over.”

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