West Melbourne City Councilwoman Stephany Eley.
Melbourne, FL (Florida Today) -- A fly-on-the-wall surveillance camera catches what appears to be a normal transaction at the Target return counter.
But the transaction turned out to be anything but typical.
the slightly pixelated footage does not explain: The customer is West
Melbourne City Councilwoman Stephany Eley allegedly returning a broken
two-year-old television tucked in a new box and - at least temporarily -
pocketing the refund.
The video catches the sketchy return that should have gone unnoticed.
but for West Melbourne police who showed up at the store for an
unrelated investigation and asked the store security manager about a
television box in his office.
police incident report says a customer tried to return an old 46-inch
Vizio television in the wrong box to the Target store in Melbourne
Village on Sept. 2. The customer was turned away.
she went to the Target at Hammock Landing in West Melbourne, where her
return was accepted.The transaction took a total of three minutes.
store's security manager, Patrick George, voided the transaction later
that day after discovering it was the wrong television in the box.
Target chose not to pursue criminal charges.
Case seemingly closed.
two weeks later on Sept. 17, West Melbourne police officers went to the
store on an unrelated case. While speaking with the loss prevention
officer, they asked about a TV box in his office, police officials said.
The employee told officers it was a disputed return involving a West
Melbourne city councilwoman.
the officer became aware it involved a city council person, they
notified their supervisor," said Police Chief Richard Wiley, who
confirmed that Eley was the customer. He was notified and sent Deputy
Chief Dan Swartzfager and Capt. Charles Finstead to the store. Wiley
said he dispatched members of his command staff - administrators who see
little time on the road - because the incident involved an elected
incident is documented in a single-page report that is based on a police
interview with the store's loss prevention officer, Patrick George.
Eley did not return multiple requests for comment made by our news partners at FLORIDA TODAY over the course of two days.
"The customer advised that someone from target.com advised her to put
the old, broken television in the box and bring it into the store," the
The police chief said a
disputed return normally would not warrant a police response. In the
interest of transparency, and so as not to appear to be sweeping
anything under the rug, he directed staff to write the report, which
does not include Eley's name.
said that was because "it wouldn't be fair" to include her name in a
report that, had it been a typical shopper whose return was handled by
the store, would not have been created.
"We probably would not even have done a report on this if it didn't involve a city councilwoman," Wiley said.
has served on the city council since 2007. One year ago, Eley - then
deputy mayor - made the motion to choose Wiley for the chief job and
earlier this year voted with the rest of the council to give Wiley a 2.9