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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 19:54 GMT
The story of Winona's stealing spree
Winona Ryder in Saks
Ryder was caught on the store's security tapes
Actress Winona Ryder has been found guilty of shoplifting more than $5,500 (3,800) of designer goods.

"A simple case of theft" was how prosecutor Ann Rundle described the Winona Ryder case on the first day of the trial - and by the end, the jury decided she was right.

They agreed that the actress collected a pile of clothes and accessories as she walked around Saks department store in Beverly Hills and cut the security tags off in a fitting room.

Winona Ryder in court
Ryder said she was preparing for a film role
Ryder visited the store, where she was a regular customer, on 12 December 2001 and embarked on a marathon tour of the shop.

While looking around, she attracted the attention of the store's security manager, Kenneth Evans, who was watching video screens and became suspicious of the figure carrying a number of shopping bags.

He said he did not recognise Ryder at first - in fact, he initially thought she was a homeless person, according to pre-trial testimony.

He was suspicious enough to dispatch a guard, Colleen Rainey, to keep tabs on her.

While wandering around the store, Ms Ryder grabbed more and more clothes, piling them up in her arms.

Sak's security guard Colleen Rainey
Guard Colleen Rainey peered into Ryder's changing room
She wore a hat with a price tag still on it, but the hat ended up in one of her bags, while other items from her pile disappeared from view as her bags "grew larger and larger", prosecutors said.

The actress also paid two lengthy visits to changing rooms.

It was during one of these visits that Ms Rainey peered through the slats to see the star kneeling on the floor and sorting the merchandise before attempting to cut security tags off with a small pair of scissors.

"I saw her looking over items she had taken in - several pairs of socks, hair accessories, a hat, a blouse," Ms Rainey told the court.

"She was kind of organising them. Then she entered into her handbag and grabbed a pair of scissors and started cutting sensor tags off."

Sak's security manager Ken Evans
Kenneth Evans took a Polaroid of the star
Ryder cut her finger while trying to snip the security tag off a white Calvin Klein clutch-bag, it was claimed, and the bag, complete with blood stains, was produced in court.

A security video showed a shop assistant putting a plaster on Ryder's finger after she emerged.

But the video did not show her actually cutting the tags off - as prosecutors had originally claimed - because there were no cameras in the cubicles.


Didn't my assistant pay for it?

Winona Ryder when confronted
At the end of her shopping trip, the video showed Ryder talking to a sales assistant before paying more than $3,000 (1,900) for a leather Dolce & Gabbana bomber jacket and two Yves Saint Laurent tops.

But as she walked out of the shop, weighed down with bags, three security guards blocked her path and took the bags off her.

They accused her of not paying for many more items, and Ryder responded: "Didn't my assistant pay for it?", according to Rainey.

But there was no assistant with her and Ryder was escorted to a basement security office.

Ryder was "polite and apologetic" when confronted, Mr Evans said. "She immediately stood up and took hold of my hand and apologised for what had happened."

'Acting preparation'

Her bags were unpacked, and when a guard asked her whether she had any other items apart from what was in the bags, Ryder opened her coat and produced two beaded purses.

A total of 20 stolen items were found, including socks, hair accessories and a white Gucci dress worth $1,595 (1,100), they said.

Ryder told the guards that a film director told her to shoplift to prepare for a forthcoming role.

First, she said the film was called Shopgirl before saying the title was White Jazz - which she described as a police crime drama - when later talking to police.

Winona Ryder
Ryder said she was threatened by store guards
An officer called to the store, Mark Parker, said Ryder was calm, smiling and talking a lot.

But she was also nervous about what would happen to her, he said.

"At one point she was explaining that she was getting in character for a role as a kleptomaniac," he told the court.

"She wanted to see what it was like to shoplift."

Mr Evans took a Polaroid photograph of her, and she was released on $20,000 (14,000) bail later that day.

But Ryder's story of what happened in the security office was very different.

'Unbelievable'

Her lawyer, Mark Geragos, said the star was threatened and one of the male guards lifted up her top before she screamed at them to stop.

"My client did not believe this was happening to her," he said.

He said a guard flicked through her filofax and copied Keanu Reeves' phone number and they asked her to get them tickets for a movie premiere.

Mr Geragos also claimed Ryder was being victimised because of her celebrity.

But the jury did not have enough sympathy to believe her side of the story.

See also:

14 Dec 01 | Entertainment
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