by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:
DULUTH, Ga. - A group of store employees took matters into their own hands to help police catch a suspected thief.
Duluth police said even before a shoplifting suspect shoved a power tool in his pants, store employees were watching his every move.
"The second I saw him, I knew it was him," said store employee Alex Cossette.
Fed up with a recent string of thefts, the staff of Howard Brothers True Value Hardware on Buford Highway vowed to be ready the next time.
The workers said once they spotted a suspicious shopper last Thursday, they had eyes on the floor and from above with security cameras.
"Well, I'm looking at the cameras. I do see him stick it in his pants," said store manager Jason Clark. "I tell the girls to the call the police."
Clark said a Bostitch nail gun was under the man's running suit, secured with bungee cords.
"I asked him, I said, 'Well, you mind showing me what is stuck in your pants?" Clark said.
The man refused and tried to leave.
"I can't let him get to the door, that's what I was thinking," Clark said.
Surveillance shows Clark first confront the man alone. Then several other employees corral him as he tries to run. Within minutes, police officers swarm in.
The video shows employees exchanging a high-five after police take the man into custody.
Police arrested Joseph Thompson, 41, of Lithonia. He's charged with theft by shoplifting.
Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh dug into Thompson's background and found he's wanted on a shoplifting warrant in Cobb County. Records show he also has prior arrests in Marietta and Riverdale, along with arrests in Gwinnett and DeKalb counties.
"I said, 'I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming back, I've been waiting for you for quite a while,'" Clark said.
While employees at the store believe Thompson is the same man who hit the store before, police have only charged him in relation to Thursday's incident.
The workers believe Thompson had an accomplice driving a getaway car, who they said left before the police arrived.