Teens hide in booths, wait until flea market is closed before burglary

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The owner of the South Side Flea Market believes two teenagers tried to steal merchandise after the store was closed.

Charles Key is the owner and operator of the flea market, which is located on South East Street. Key said it happened Wednesday night.

“We locked the store and set the alarm about 7:30 and about 7:50, they got out of the booths and started walking around the market. They saw the parking lot was empty, so they started browsing through the booths, clear(ed) out what they wanted,” Key said.

Key believes the boys hid somewhere in the store and waited until everyone left for the day. The flea market has 200 booths.

Chris Luellen said his booth was targeted.

“They come in underneath my fence and broke their way into this case,” Luellen said.

Luellen said a couple thousand dollars worth of merchandise was stolen, including iPad’s, tablets and laptops.

“It’s an awful lot for a small business like ours,” Luellen said.

Key and another booth operator said the men may have damaged some of the cases in order to get to the merchandise. Key said the men created a pile of merchandise toward the back of the building. The stash was near two doors and a motion detector. It sounded when the men walked near the door.

“When that happened, it sent off a huge siren through this whole store and they knew they were in trouble. We got a call within 30 seconds of him setting off the motion detectors. They ran straight down the aisle, out the front door,” Key said.

Key said the men left behind practically all of the merchandise that was taken out of the booths. The flea market has a number of pictures of the men. Key said he believes they were teenagers who used to work at some point at one of the booths.

“It’s sad that minors would get in here and start that type of activity at this stage of their life,” Key said.

Luellen wants to offer a reward for information leading to an arrest in this case. Luellen mentioned his booth has been broken into this past year. He said that is the reason why he set up a camera at his booth.

The police are continuing to investigate.

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