WATERTOWN — Michael Stratton is still laughing at a surveillance video that appears to show two women attempting to take a lawn mower from a display outside his hardware store that was closed for the night. The peak of his laughter always comes when one of the women discovers the machine is chained to the wall.
It was about 9:45 p.m. on Thursday, June 25, when the vehicle comes into view of the Ring surveillance camera situated near the front door of Stratton Hardware on Washington Street.
The van can be seen pulled up beside the store, which had been closed for hours, before one woman exits the passenger side. She begins directing the driver as she backed up toward the lawn mower sitting on a rack.
“Back up,” the woman says. “Keep going, keep going. Keep going back. Keep going back. You’re good.”
The van is in what appears to be their desired position at this point. Now the driver exits the vehicle and begins to examine the passenger side tires, which Mr. Stratton would later suspect is an attempt to distract from what the other woman was about to do.
“Are they open?” the passenger, wearing a mask, could be heard asking seconds before making a move toward the mower.
She then picks up the lawn mower and begins moving it toward the open tailgate of the vehicle. She didn’t make it far as the mower was chained to the wall, resulting in her being jolted back.
“Oh my God, it’s locked,” one can be heard saying.
Both women then got in the vehicle and drove out of the parking lot.
While the intent of the two women is unknown, it appears based on the video they were attempting to take the mower and place it in their vehicle.
Mr. Stratton, who runs the store with his dad, Michael Stratton Sr., found the lawn mower on the ground when he came in the next morning. So he checked the surveillance footage and saw what had happened.
“I find it hilarious,” Mr. Stratton said. “I wasn’t going to put it online but then I thought, why not?”
Mr. Stratton posted photos of the two women on the store’s Facebook page, hoping to put a name to the faces. After around 40,000 people viewed the post, the store received around 30 calls identifying the two women.
His son’s graduation ceremony was last weekend, and Mr. Stratton said he didn’t have time to deal with it.
“I just sort of let it go,” Mr. Stratton said. “I figured they must by now know that we did catch them.”
As of Wednesday he had not contacted police, but he’s not ruling that option out. And now, Mr. Stratton said he has names of the two women, along with addresses and phone numbers.
“I’ve thought about calling them,” he said, “and telling them ‘I’d give you a good deal on that mower if you want to come pay for it.’”
To watch the surveillance video of the incident, visit nny360.com.