Friday, May 12, 2006

There but for the grace of god...

From today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on-line version:

Alleged serial yarn thief leaves owners tangled

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 05/12/06

There are a million yarns in the big city.

This one comes with knitting needles.

A 68-year-old woman, described as a serial yarn thief, is facing a felony shoplifting charge in Fulton County Superior Court after what yarn store owners claim has been a long skein of stealing from knitting stores from Cherokee County to Dunwoody to Buckhead.

Audrey Yandel pulled the wool over shopkeepers' eyes for so long because she looked exactly like the average yarn store customer: "A sweet old lady — harmless," said Julie Elledge, the owner of the Dunwoody Yarn Shop who collared Yandel and turned her into police May 1.

She said she recognized Yandel from a photo another shop owner had circulated on the Internet the week before. "I saw her sticking knitting needles in her Louis Vuitton bag," said Elledge.

"They were all double point needles. I guess she planned to knit socks."

Monica Champion, the owner of Why Knot Knit in Buckhead, circulated the photograph of Yandel after Champion said she caught her on April 23 shoplifting $150 worth of ebony wood needles and skeins of hand-dyed wool from her store.

"It's outrageous," said Champion. "I think she has about $2,000 worth of knitting goods from my store alone. She told me 'I have them stacked up to the wall at home.' But police haven't gotten a warrant to search the place."

Yandel's court date has not been scheduled, according to Erik Friedly, spokesman for the Fulton County district attorney's office, who said she was charged with a felony because there's more than one incident.

Yandel could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Elledge said she's not certain what a search of Yandel's home will prove because the woman — whom she described as "looking like my entire client base" — was not just a shoplifter, she was also a devoted customer to her store, and others.

"How will we know what she stole, and what she bought?" asked Elledge.

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