A retailer on Felicia Oke Street in the Olowora area of Lagos State, Olabisi Opeyemi, is smarting from the loss inflicted on her by a suspected thief who disguised as a customer to steal two bags of rice from her shop.
Punch reports that the suspect, still at large, went to the shop on Thursday afternoon in company with two boys said to be about 15-year-old to buy two 50-kilogramme bags of rice.
It was gathered that he made Opeyemi’s younger sister, Alima, who was in the shop at the time, believe that the boys were his brothers and that their mother also had a shop nearby.
Leaving the boys behind, he reportedly went away with the staple on a commercial motorcycle, promising that he would return soon to pay.
When he didn’t return several minutes later, one of the boys was said to have gone to search for him. It was learnt that Alima raised the alarm as the other boy, who is a resident of the area, wanted to leave.
She realised she had been defrauded when the teenager told her that he didn’t know the man and that he was only asked to assist him in carrying a load at the shop.
It could not be ascertained whether the boy who went in search of the suspect was also used as ‘collateral’ as he didn’t return to the shop.
The shop had yet to open when our correspondent visited the neighbourhood around 11 am on Friday.
Opeyemi, who spoke on the phone, said she was devastated by the loss of the goods, adding that the theft had taken a toll on her capital.
She said she did not report the incident to the police because she knew the boy’s poor mother who begged her to let go of the matter.
She stated, “I was not at the shop when the incident occurred. I took ill and decided to rest at home. It was my sister who was at the shop. She called me on the phone and asked for the price of a bag of rice and I told her. She said it was a customer who requested the price.
“She didn’t get back to me to inform me that the person wanted to go with the goods. It was later when she realised she had been defrauded that she called me. She said the man went away with two bags of rice and told her that the man said she should give him some minutes to collect money from his mother at a nearby shop.
“She was deceived that those boys were the man’s brothers. He asked them to wait for him and left with two 50kgs of foreign rice worth N60,000. We later realised that he met one of the boys on the street and asked him to assist him to carry a load at our shop. The boy’s mother came yesterday (Thursday) and she was begging. I had to let go even though it is a huge loss to me.”
Alima explained that the man initially came with the unknown boy on a bicycle to find out the price of a bag of rice.
She said he left after getting the price and returned shortly afterwards with the boy who resides in the community.
Alima said, “The man sat inside the shop and called a woman on the phone in my presence. I could hear the woman’s voice. She asked him if the two bags were long-grain rice. He told her one was short-grain while the other was long grain.
“The woman told him to buy it. He then called an okada rider and asked the two boys to bring out the bags of rice. While he was going away with the rice, he said, ‘my brothers, wait let me collect money from our mum’s shop.’
“After a while, I began to wonder why it was taking him too long to return. I asked the boys where their brother was but they said they didn’t know him. The boy he first came with mounted the bicycle and went to look for him. The other boy, who I later knew lives around here, was about to leave when I dragged him back. He said the man met him on the street and asked that he help him to carry something in the shop.”
Our correspondent overheard residents discussing the incident, with some insinuating that the man probably hypnotised Alima.