Rantz: Accused shoplifter candidate won’t drop out, surveillance released

Aug 13, 2023, 5:55 PM | Updated: Aug 14, 2023, 9:50 am

Denise Yun...

(Screenshot of security video obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

(Screenshot of security video obtained by The Jason Rantz Show)

Denise Yun is running for Federal Way City Council on a campaign of protecting businesses from crime. But she’s also accused of shoplifting from a local business, and it’s not the first time. The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH obtained the original surveillance footage.

Federal Way Trinity Ace Hardware store owner Nick Rose said one of his employees saw a female customer possibly put something in her purse. She was perusing the tools section at the time, which Rose said is where the store sees the most shoplifting. He said he then approached the woman to ask if she had anything in her purse that she shouldn’t. At the time, her shopping cart was full of wooden stakes for campaign signs. Her purse was placed in the top basket.

“She ended up coming towards the cashier, and I wanted to see if I could look in her purse to see if there was anything … if I could see anything. And I did see a small sliver. She kind of had her hand on her purse. It was a very large purse. And there was a small sliver, that I can see a shiny wooden hammer or a handle,” Rose told The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Rose said he was direct with his request but the woman said, “Absolutely not.” And that’s when he reached into her bag and pulled out one of his hammers he believed she took from the shelves.

“I reached into her purse and pulled out a hammer. It was one of my hammers that had a little ACE tag hanging on it. It was a ball peen hammer, so I just grabbed it. And as soon as that happened, she just stormed out of the store,” he said.

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Surveillance footage appears to back up Rose

Rose shared the full surveillance videos catching the interaction and alleged shoplifting with The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. It captures the customer clearly pulling hammers from the shelf, knocking over store signage in the process. She puts the hammers on top of her purse and pushes the cart away. Moments later, surveillance footage shows the customer appearing to place the hammers in her purse.

Soon Rose discovered the female customer was actually a Federal Way city council candidate.

Rose says he spoke to one of his employees about what happened. He said his employee told him the customer asked when the store would get more wooden stakes, as they were all out. She gave the employee her number and asked if he’d call her when more were in stock. That’s when Rose did some internet sleuthing.

“I did a reverse lookup on the phone number and that’s when Denise Yun’s campaign [website] came up. And I asked this particular employee, ‘Is this the woman that you helped?’ And he said, ‘Yes, it was,'” Rose explained. He said he even asked another employee if he recognized Yun from the tool section of the store. The employee also confirmed her identity.

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Yun says she’s innocent

Yun maintains her innocence.

Speaking to the Federal Way Mirror, Yun admitted to putting the hammers in her purse. But she said she did it so that they wouldn’t fall on her feet.

The Kent Reporter said Yun claimed she took the hammers out of her purse before leaving, though surveillance footage suggests that’s not true. She also alleged that Rose made a racist comment about her running for office: “How many Koreans gave you hundreds in cash to run for office in Korea town?” Rose said that never happened.

“So I didn’t know who she was at the time she left,” Rose said. “I don’t know how I could have had a racial remark against her ethnicity, which I didn’t know who it was, or I didn’t even know that she was running at the time. So those are, I think, just ways of discrediting what I have as proof. And I don’t know what kind of proof she has on her statement… there [were] witnesses around me. I do have customers and cashiers nearby that can that can vouch for that.”

Rose said after this story was reported, Yun returned to his store and attempted to give him $200 in cash as a “donation.”

“I didn’t ask for what or why I just told her to leave the store. But if I said something insulting to her, why would she want to turn around and give me $200 cash as what she says is a donation? I’m not sure what that means?”

There are some unanswered questions. Why would Yun allegedly attempt to steal three hammers, but appear to be willing to pay for the wooden stakes? Yun did not agree to an interview after asking me who the audience was for the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. But previous incidents could explain her behavior.

This isn’t the first shoplifting allegation

This isn’t the first time Yun has been accused of shoplifting.

Yun pleaded guilty to Second Degree Attempted Theft for an incident on Sep. 18, 2000 at the Nordstrom at Bellevue Square Mall. Loss prevention staff saw Yun enter fitting rooms with a Nordstrom bag and merchandise, but when she exited, the items weren’t located. Yun paid for one dress, but stole $1,451 worth of other merchandise.

Police say Yun confessed but then told a Bellevue police officer that she shouldn’t have “because she could have gotten out of the charges,” according to a police report. She also said she was “stupid” for stealing and owning up to it.

The Federal Way Mirror reports that Yun, a nurse, saw her license suspended in 2003 by the state Nursing Commission after pleading guilty to second-degree theft in Tacoma at a Bon Marche. Her license was reinstated in 2018 and the conviction was vacated in 2020.

Charges have not yet been decided for the alleged Ace Hardware shoplifting.

The City of Federal Way gave the case to the City of Kent to avoid any charges of bias. Yun’s opponent is incumbent Federal Way City Council President Linda Kochmar.

Political implications

Initially, it was reported that Yun would drop out of the race. But she’s since clarified that she’s still in the race and intends to win.

Yun released a statement on her campaign website. She alleged Rose followed her as she was shopping in his store “and knew I was running for office and suggested I should buy hammers to place the signs on the ground.” She accused him of releasing an “edited” video “to show people a one-sided story.”

“I hope people understand that there are two sides to a story and I am not stupid enough to steal anything while running for office and had given the employee my phone number when they had more wooden stakes,” Yun wrote. “I have not been charged with any crime and I look forward to the day when all the facts of this incident are in full view and I will be vindicated and exonerated.”

She claimed that her experience “is what it’s like to campaign in the eyes of a Trump Republican.”

Yun’s campaign website said she is running to “support our local businesses” and to “keep businesses safe.” This recent incident obviously calls into question her commitment to being a trusted voice of local businesses.

Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). He is the author of the book “What’s Killing America: Inside the Radical Left’s Tragic Destruction of Our Cities.” Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Accused shoplifter candidate won’t drop out, surveillance released