Niagara Gazette

September 13, 2013

COPS NOTEBOOK: Criminal's liquor thefts ring true

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — I know this won't be a "shocking revelation," but sometimes criminals just get too greedy.

They find a scam or trick for stealing stuff and no matter how much they get away with, they keeping going back to the scene of the crime until they get caught.

Take for example, Gabor Szucs. He was arrested Thursday after he returned to a Niagara Falls Boulevard liquor store to commit what would have been his 18th theft of bottles of brandy. What tripped Szucs up was a sharp store manager who took notice of unexplained losses on inventory sheets, and alert employees who first tied him to the missing liquor.

The store manager told police he had noticed missing bottles of pear brandy and found, by comparing inventories versus sales, that 17 bottles were unaccounted for. He shared his findings with his employees, who noted that a frequent customer, Szucs, was often near the where the brandy was sold and would act suspiciously when he checked out his purchases at the store.

On Sept. 7, Szucs paid a visit to the store and, sure enough, when employees checked after he left, they found a bottle of pear brandy missing. The store manager went to the videotape (security system) and watched as Szucs took a bottle of brandy and placed it in a used liquor box, which the store provides to customers who are purchasing multiple bottles of booze.

Now this is where Szucs got slick. The manager saw him take the brandy bottle and then saw him lay it on its side in the box. 

Szucs then placed another bottles of liquor on top of the brandy bottle, concealing it from view. 

When he got to the cashier's counter, Szucs would take out the upright bottles, which could be seen, and had the cashier ring those up. But he never took the brandy bottle, which was on its side and out of sight.

As the other bottles were rung up, Szucs placed them back in the box, once again covering up the brandy bottle. 

I told you the scam was slick. 

Well, except that Szucs used a credit card to pay for the other bottles of liquor. That allowed the store manager to go to the credit card company and get a list of all of Szucs' visits to the store.

Armed with that list, the manager was able to retrieve the surveillance video of every visit. There were 17 visits between Sept. 2012 and Sept. 7. 

Each time, Szucs used the same scam to rip-off a bottle of brandy. Total take, more than $662 worth of brandy. 

As a result of the super sleuthing of the store manager, and Szucs' greed (or brandy addiction), he's now behind bars.

We say it all the time. No one ever says criminals are smart.

Contact Reporter Rick Pfeiffer at 282-2311, ext. 2257.