MOSES LAKE, Wash. -A downtown business owner is heartbroken after she says a man claiming to need food for his kids, was really using the line to case her shop. She believes he repaid her generosity by nearly wiping out her life savings and stealing thousands of dollars in inventory.
"It is my dream," Dawn Witthuhn said. "I wanted to do this."
Witthuhn and her husband poured nearly every cent they had into making their downtown bike shop, Moses Lake Cyclery a reality. They said it recently became a nightmare.
"I'm just so hurt," she said.
It all started, according to the couple, last week when they claim a man came to the store asking them for food to feed his children.
"He said his kids were hungry," she said.
The couple said they not only gave him cash, but also went to the grocery store to get several bags of food for the man. They now believe his story was a ruse for him to case their property.
"I walked in (last Monday) and I didn't know what to think at first," Witthuh said. "I called my husband. I said we've been broken into. We lost $8,000 in inventory."
They said that included several gifts that were on layaway for customers. They said the thief stole popular Christmas gifts, so they are now forced to send potential customers away.
They said some detective work of their own confirmed their fears of who was responsible.
"He got my bank card, for my business and maxed it out," Witthuhn said. "We have him on camera (using the card.) We try to help out. This is what we get."
The couple said they are devastated, but said there is one thing the crook can't steal…their spirit.
"I’m going to keep my head up and just keeping moving forward," she said.
The couple dug into what savings they have left to take of the families who had items on layaway stolen. They are now worried about providing Christmas for their own loved ones. They said because so much of their inventory is wiped out, the store is really struggling.
If you are interested in helping, here is how…https://www.gofundme.com/moses-lake-cyclery
If you have information on the theft, call Moses Lake Police, reference case number 17ML15251.