Fed up with theft, SF boutique heads to small claims court over customer they say took items

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Fed up with retail theft and the city's lack of response, a San Francisco business took a customer they say took merchandise from them to small claims court.

Isalis is a boutique with locations on Fillmore, Union and Valencia Streets in San Francisco.

Co-owners Christina Battle and Louisa Young say retail theft is a constant.

"In the past, every single police report we've ever filed for any kind of shoplifter or break-in entry has never had any resolution," said Christina Battle, Isalis Co-Owner.

Battle says the blatant theft the store experienced recently on Fillmore Street is not the norm. The store's co-owners say more often some repeat customers will take one or two items without paying for them.

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"It's disheartening because these are our actual customers that come in," said Louisa Young, Isalis co-owner.

Frustrated and fed up, they decided to approach one customer differently who they say took merchandise from the store in May and June.

Rather than filing a police report, through their attorney they reached out to the customer.

Unable to agree on a settlement amount, they took the customer to small claims court Tuesday.

ABC7 News attended the hearing but video was not allowed.

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The customer and store's co-owners ultimately agreed to a $1,121 settlement covering the cost of two items at $256 dollars, $800 for the time the co-owners spent pulling surveillance video and researching and $65 in court fees.

The settlement did not cover the store's attorney's fees, though the co-owners would have preferred it did.

"Whenever there's a theft in one of our stores this is what people don't understand we basically have to halt our operations," said Battle.

"We want to interview our staff, find out if this person has been in before then we start the process of digging through our tapes which could be so lengthy depending on what we're looking for," she continued.

The customer's attorney disagrees.

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"There's no legal basis for the award of money for owner's time getting ready to go to small claims court," said attorney Stephen Jaffe.

"The owners of this business have another agenda that they're working on here, making a political statement, making an example of my client," Jaffe continued.

As for what Battle and Young learned going to small claims court to handle what's become a big problem in San Francisco.

"For bigger companies its probably not worth their time," said Battle.

"For Louisa and I we felt really strongly we had to take a stance on this," she continued.

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