Jimmy Karountzos was still laughing on Wednesday when he related the story of a break and entry to his new liquor store on Sunday night.
He was more serious in expressing concern for the suspect, whom he described as a young street person with a big drinking problem.
“I feel sorry for him,” Karountzos said. “It’s not a good life.”
By piecing together scenes captured on Creston Liquor Store security cameras, he said the burglary started when the suspect managed to pry open one of the exterior garage-type doors and then gain entry to the store’s interior.
Inside, he helped himself to a beer, rifled through offices and drawers, and broke a window to get into one room. He found some cash, which he stashed in his backpack. The suspect then attempted to leave the same way he came, but could not get the door open far enough to allow his escape.
Eventually, he had another beer.
“Then he must have gone to sleep,” Karountzos said.
A staff arriving to open the store on Sunday morning got a surprise when a young male adult scooted out from under the roll-up door and ran off down the street.
It didn’t take long for RCMP members and Karountzos staff to identify the man from video images. Later in the afternoon, told by a customer that the suspect had been seen downtown minutes earlier, Karountzos and a friend went out on their own search.
A short time later they saw him at a table in Casey’s Community House, backpack on the seat beside him.
Karountzos sat on a nearby chair and engaged in a conversation.
“He was shocked that I knew him by name,” Karountzos said. “’How do you know my name?’”
“I said, Jason, I saw you on Facebook! He was proud to have his face on Facebook!”
Karountzos then pretended to have left his wallet behind and asked the suspect if he would buy him a beer.
“He did, and when the beer came, he reached into his backpack to get cash to pay!”
The delay tactic worked, and RCMP arrested the suspect soon afterward, without incident.
“The police were laughing when they came to my store after,” Karountzos said. “They said it was the funniest robbery they had ever been involved with.”
In the days since Karountzos has changed some procedures to make the new building more secure and has been beefing up his security system.
Charges are pending.