Sophia Romo has owned Erotic Cabaret Boutique near Waugh and Westheimer in Montrose for five years.
On Sunday, as she was taking off work, she got a call from her manager asking her to look at the surveillance cameras because he believed a customer was stealing.
"I could see she was putting stuff in her purse," Romo said. "I always tell my employees here, 'Handle it how you see fit. Nothing in here is worth your life.'"
The manager decided to follow the woman, identified as Kandy Alarcon, half a mile east, where she boarded a METRO bus. Romo decided to board as well.
"I was like, 'OK, I will meet you at the next stop,'" Romo said.
Romo started recording on her phone as she got on the bus outside her store and proceeded to confront the woman, who appeared shocked.
"'This raggedy (expletive) came into Erotic and stole from my store,'" Romo said in the video. "'We are going to follow her to her house because she said she's going to pay for it there, right?'" Alarcon, the accused, said, "yes."
"My manager had already told me he asked for the stuff back, and she said 'no,'" Romo said.
"She said she was going to pay for it at her house. So I was like, 'OK. I guess we are going to your house.'"
As they rode for miles down Westheimer, Romo looked through Alarcon's purse and said she found a schoolgirl skirt, a costume, bras, shapewear, lubricant, and female stimulants. She estimated it was about $600 worth of merchandise.
"She had the metal sensor remover to take sensors off clothes from businesses, so it wasn't her first time," Romo said.
Alarcon got off the bus near Kirby, and so did Romo and her manager. On foot, they followed her for miles. At the same time, they were on the phone with the police who were on their way.
Alarcon was arrested by Houston police and charged with misdemeanor theft. She was later released on a $500 bond.
"I just know that I'm super fed up with people coming in here and stealing," Romo said. "When you come here especially, you're taking it directly from me, like my bank account. This isn't a big corporation with good insurance that can cover the losses."
Romo posted the video of her confronting Alarcon on TikTok, and it has since gone viral.
Since then, Romo was contacted by other business owners who said they have also had issues with the same woman. Some even sent over surveillance tape of Alarcon stealing in their store. At least one of the owner's has filed a police report.
"I definitely don't recommend doing this," Romo said. "This could have been a really dangerous situation, and I don't recommend doing this all the time or ever. This was just me being fed up with people stealing from us."
According to court records, Alarcon is on probation for a misdemeanor theft case from 2021 after she stole two dresses from a Saks Off Fifth at the Houston Premium Outlets on 290 and the Grand Parkway.
She also is charged with theft in Hays County in the Austin Metropolitan area.
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