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Good Samaritans jumped in to catch would-be thief

By Ian McInroy, Barrie Examiner

Leonard Domerecki, of Karat Jewellery and Designs, stands outside his Kozlov Centre shop where a thief attempted to steal a $13,000 diamond ring on Tuesday. Domerecki quickly chased down the would-be thief who, with the help of neighbouring business owners, was held until police arrived. IAN MCINROY BARRIE EXAMINER

Leonard Domerecki, of Karat Jewellery and Designs, stands outside his Kozlov Centre shop where a thief attempted to steal a $13,000 diamond ring on Tuesday. Domerecki quickly chased down the would-be thief who, with the help of neighbouring business owners, was held until police arrived. IAN MCINROY BARRIE EXAMINER

No way, no how.

That's the first thing that crossed Leonard Domerecki's mind on Tuesday when a would-be thief attempted to flee with a huge diamond from the store he runs with his wife.

But Domerecki wasn't having any of it. Before he could even think about the consequences, he was chasing down the robber who was trying to rip off a $13,000 1.12-carat solitaire diamond ring from Karat Jewellery and Designs in the Kozlov Centre.

With the help of some nearby Good Samaritan shop owners, he cornered the thief and retrieved the ring. The culprit was taken into custody.

Domerecki's wife, Jane Cook, said the incident is a sad reflection of today's society.

"It's a sign of the times," she said. "He snatched it right out of my hand. I was standing right beside him and was inches from his face. I can't believe how fast he ran."

Her husband can.

"My spontaneous reaction was this is my money walking out the door and that's not going to happen," he said. "I'm after this guy and thinking to myself 'You're not getting away with my diamond'."

Initially, two men — who didn't look especially well-to-do — came into the shop at around 5 p.m. and were looking at the diamond ring.

Over the many years he's been in the business, Domerecki said he's learned not to evaluate people by their appearances.

"We've been doing custom-crafted jewelry in this mall for 14 years. You don't know who you're talking to and you can't judge a book by its cover," he said. "We believe everyone should be treated with respect.

"Their knowledge of diamonds was evident. They had questions about the cut, clarity and quality of it."

While one of them went outside to have a cigarette, the second man asked to have another look at the ring.

"I just need to see it one last time," he told the shop owners.

That's when the snatch-and-grab occurred.

Domerecki said then everything quickly came into focus.

"My adrenaline was just flowing," he said, adding that, without thinking, he chased the robber for approximately 30 metres before cornering him in a nearby shop.

"I was yelling 'get back here, come back'. I just grabbed him and held him against the wall," he said. "But other folks helped prevent him from leaving the area. The good part of a bad story is the people in the neighbouring stores came to help us."

The store's security system hooked up to Barrie police alerted officers to the theft and they responded quickly, the couple said.

Domerecki is of two minds when it comes to the incident.

"We (shop owners and the public) have to be more cautious and vigilant and stand together. (Thieves) can't think that they can just walk in here and take what they want," he said, adding that the dangerous aspect of his actions didn't really dawn on him until later. "I could've been hurt, shot or knifed."

Barrie police Sgt. Michael Ritchie said there can be serious consequences when victims attempt to stand up to a robber.

"It is commendable, but is it best practice? Probably not. People are carrying weapons these days," he said.

The suspect was taken into custody and charged with theft and possession of stolen property from a previous offence.

ian.mcinroy@sunmedia.ca


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