Nordstrom's Ninja Shoplifting Switchboard Operator Foiled By Cleaning Crew

In a storyline that is more appropriate for a Saturday morning cartoon adventure series than a crime show, a switchboard operator at an Illinois Nordstrom has been charged with more than $30,000 in shoplifting. This happened after police established that he stayed at the store after closing, changed into an all-black Ninja-like outfit, helped himself to merchandise, squirreled it away, slept in the store overnight and tried to take the stuff home in the daylight. But our crime-fighting (excuse me: crime-causing) hero got foiled by his arch-enemy: the overnight cleaning crew.

The 21-year-old operator is Carlo Frank Settecase, and he attempted to unload the merchandise on eBay. To be fair, it wasn't a strict Ninja outfit. Police described it as merely a black top with a grey hood, a ski mask over his face, black gloves, black shorts and black socks without shoes. It was more Johnny Cash than Bruce Lee.

Here is how authorities described his efforts. On September 5, Settecase "hid under a desk in the switchboard operators booth" until security left the area and locked the doors. He then emerged in his costume, which made for some very interesting footage on security cameras. He walked through the store with a mail cart and filled up with merchandise. He then brought everything back—still in the mail cart—to the mailroom.

His caper wasn't dead yet, as there was the fine chance that no one would have had a reason to check the overnight footage. (Well, they did later, when they noticed things missing, but we're getting ahead of the story.) But at about 2 AM (Chicago time), a member of the maintenance crew saw him sleeping in the operator's booth area, still wearing his costume.

Settecase reportedly told the crew he was sleeping there "because he had family problems." Given his outfit, that part seemed quite plausible. The crew sang like canaries anyway, dropping a dime on him to store security.

The police report had this interesting line: Nordstrom officials apparently "reviewed video surveillance, which revealed the subject disguised in the ski mask selecting numerous items of Nordstrom merchandise. They believed the subject to be Settecase, since there were no other know Nordstrom customers or employees in the building at the time," according to The Chicago Tribune. I guess the idea of burglars who don't already work for Nordstrom didn't occur to them.

Police reported that they found 77 pieces of stolen merchandise at the suspect's home. "Nearly 30 items did not have price tags, but those that did—including handbags, wallets, facial creams, watches, clothing and fragrances—had a total value of more than $29,000," the Tribune story reported.