Crime

Facebook video helps find Josette’s furniture thieves. They even apologized.

Josette’s costume shop on Howard Avenue in Biloxi.
Josette’s costume shop on Howard Avenue in Biloxi. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

Jacob Locklar can’t remember a time when his family didn’t own that special set of patio furniture.

The 46-year-old owner of Josette’s Costume in Biloxi recalls first seeing the now antique furniture — a table, four chairs and love seat — as an adolescent. He even helped paint it once.

For a 24-hour span last weekend, however, Locklar’s heart was heavy as the furniture, which carries great sentimental value, disappeared from in front of the store late Friday night. Set up to have a comfortable place to watch passing Mardi Gras parades, Locklar was “pissed” when he noticed the six pieces missing Saturday.

About that time, the power of Facebook — and perhaps more specifically the Coast community — stepped in and saved the day.

Surveillance video caught two people going to great lengths to first cut the wire that connected the furniture from a post and then take off with it all.

The thieves perhaps caught a break, in that by the time Locklar noticed the furniture missing it was after a long day. After calling police to file a report they were told they’d have to come down to the station in person so they opted to wait until Monday.

In the meantime, Locklar posted the video to the store’s Facebook page Saturday night. He watched in amazement as not only views of the footage shot up, but calls and messages about the theft poured in.

“We had family members calling us,” Locklar said.

The news even spread through the community.

“We enjoyed it to a certain point,” Locklar said. “We would go into stores and people were mentioning it without knowing who I was.”

Locklar said the video eclipsed 16,000 views before he removed it — but not before his furniture was returned Sunday morning.

He said the pair of thieves texted him Sunday to apologize after the furniture was discreetly returned.

“I thought the response was good. So many people use (Facebook) maliciously, but once we got (the furniture) we took the video right off. We don’t want their lives to be ruined,” Locklar said. “I don’t think they’re that bad of kids. I just think they did something stupid.”

Locklar said was excited about this year’s Gulf Coast Carnival Association parade, which rolled through Biloxi on Tuesday. Admittedly, this time he held off on putting the furniture out too early for obvious reasons.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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