First posted 8/28/2008 4:24 p.m.
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A man who robbed a lingerie shop on Madison Street used garments from the store’s shelves to tie the proprietor’s hands and feet before making off with a bundle of cash, several garments and some personal items.
The heist occurred shortly before 3 p.m. Aug. 27, according to Eden DeGenova, the owner of Baubo’s Garden at 7234 Madison St. She was working alone when a man who claimed to be shopping for his girlfriend suddenly told her that he was robbing the store. After casually browsing the aisles with DeGenova, the suspect grew quiet as they moved toward the back of store, she said. That’s when he revealed his intentions.
“He was shopping as any normal customer, nothing out of the ordinary,” DeGenova said of her assailant.
The day after the robbery DeGenova said she was not seriously injured in the ordeal, but the man threatened to shoot and stab her if she resisted. A weapon was never revealed.
“He had my hair, I’m sore,” DeGenova said. “He didn’t hit me or anything like that.”
She described the suspect as a black man in his mid to late 30s, approximately 5-feet 10-inches tall with a medium build. He was dressed nicely, according to DeGenova, in a white T-shirt and jeans and white baseball cap. She said he smelled heavily of cigarette smoke.
Composite sketches of the suspect were made by Forest Park police and, according to Sgt. Michael Keating, fingerprints and other evidence have been sent to state labs to be analyzed.
Store owners along the busy commercial strip received copies of the police sketch. During the Labor Day weekend, extra police patrols were assigned to Madison Street.
In an e-mail circulated among business owners, DeGenova described the ordeal.
“He made me Army crawl over to the register, get some cash out and then Army crawl back to the small alcove where I have my adult stuff,” DeGenova said in her e-mail. “He then grabbed some underwear and tied up my hands and feet. He made me give him my rings, too.”
While she was pulling approximately $200 worth of cash from the register, DeGenova was able to push a silent alarm positioned behind the register. That alarm, however, is not linked directly to the police station and instead goes to a private security firm. There seemed to be a delay before police arrived, said DeGenova, and the suspect continued to shop for various items.
Panic alarms that require a third party to relay information to local police can cause delays, said Keating, but he was not certain how much time may have passed from when the button was pressed and Forest Park police were notified.
“He did not leave immediately, but instead stayed to take a few other items, including sex toys,” authorities stated in the flyer distributed on Madison Street.
Keating said the case bears some similarity to a robbery several years ago at Girlicious, also on Madison Street, during which the suspect tied an employee there. Coincidentally, said DeGenova, the owner of Girlicious came into her store just moments after the robbery and the two traded details with police.
“I think it’s very similar to another case that we had at Girlicious a couple years back, but I can’t be sure because the descriptions [of the suspect] are very different,” Keating said. No arrests were made in the earlier case, said Keating.
No suspects have been taken into custody and authorities are reviewing security camera footage from neighboring properties to help identify the culprit. Witnesses from nearby stores reported seeing the man loitering outside the lingerie store, apparently waiting for other customers to clear out.