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Tis the Season for Shoplifting
November 27, 2008 7:47 PM   Subscribe

Tis the season for Shoplifting, when the unemployed, teens, professionals, kleptos, and political shoplifters jack, rack, nick, and stroke holiday gifts. The BBB anticipates a rise in light-fingered merchandising, but notes that on average, shoplifters get pinched only "once for every 48 times they steal." Retailers are fighting back in unusual ways. Wal-Mart, the oft-target of political shoplifters, aggressively guards its merchandise, while across the pond the Dutch approach the problem with bemusement.
posted by terranova (50 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
*rusn screaming past. Pauses. Reads. Runs screaming toward horizon.*
posted by The Whelk at 7:56 PM on November 27, 2008


*sees The Whelk whip by* - What the? -

Ah, HEMA. I'm trying to imagine what UNI-QLO would do in that situation, and it's making my head hurt.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:59 PM on November 27, 2008


That reminds me, were there any consequences for the employees who killed that shoplifter? For the store?
posted by Krrrlson at 8:01 PM on November 27, 2008


Where was it? The comments below are above par (if par is Youtube and the CBC) and mentions paying off a family in Texas for three-quarters of a million.

"Loss prevention" people should be legally barred from applying any force. Get it all on tape and let the police handle it. There's nothing that can be stolen from a Wal*Mart that justifies assault. This isn't defending your home.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:05 PM on November 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm torn. On the one hand, the cost of shoplifting is passed on to consumers. But on the other hand, so is the cost of wrongful death lawsuits.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:11 PM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Warning to shoplifters: Anyone caught shoplifting will be beaten, gagged, whipped and tortured. Any survivors will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
posted by netbros at 8:16 PM on November 27, 2008


Interestingly, my two roommates who were formerly undercover loss prevention at Target, now at Costco and Macy's, have said that the declining economy is having the opposite effect expected - major retailers cut back on LP when the belt tightening comes instead of stepping it up. They expect that target won't have any full time LP (not counting uniformed security guards who are really nothing more than deterrent) in the next couple of months. Let the free for all begin!
posted by youthenrage at 8:36 PM on November 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


It doesn't bother me that they apply some force, but obviously if loss prevention is going to go so far as to knock people down and try to restrain them, they need to be properly trained. And if people are dying, well... someone needs to take away Wal-Mart's license to do something or other. And someone needs to sue the snot out of them. Oh, and preferably someone needs to defecate on Rob Walton's face, though getting that into law without constitutional challenges might be tricky.
posted by Xezlec at 8:41 PM on November 27, 2008


Well I liked the Dutch approach. Humiliation is a good deterrent.
posted by gomichild at 8:56 PM on November 27, 2008


Having worked my share of retail jobs it seems to me that the best time to stick something in your pockets/purse/bag is when you're waiting in line to pay for a purchase. In line you're pretty much invisible to store employees; the cashier is focused on their job tasks and the customer in front of them plus mentally numb from the repetitive nature of the work, while the plain-clothed loss prevention crew doesn't seem to patrol this area assuming you're not there to steal because you're in line to pay. You're in line with people who, due to the psychological issues of keeping in line and waiting patiently, are compelled to mind their own business, seek distractions with family, friends, cell phones or magazines, or glare impatiently at the cashier. Nobody who cares will see you drop those two pairs of jeans into your purse. The way this guy moves through the store sets off so many alarm bells in my retail brain. He's not good, he's lucky.

That said, I've only shoplifted once. I was 12 and I still feel guilty about it.
posted by peeedro at 9:00 PM on November 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


A Target cashier I know recently told me that employees there are instructed not to stop or interfere with shoplifters. Only the security manager will approach a suspectedly lightfingered person or group and if he's not immediately available, the merchandise walks away.
posted by longsleeves at 9:10 PM on November 27, 2008


Those estimates about so called shrinkage from theft exceeding 6 billion a year always make me gag. How do they prove this?

In my mind these estimates are just an opportunity for the wal-marts of the world to get a tax deduction for theft/loss and then sell the goods that were supposed to be stolen. Who is stealing from who?
posted by Xurando at 9:17 PM on November 27, 2008


Those estimates about so called shrinkage from theft exceeding 6 billion a year always make me gag. How do they prove this?

How hard could it be? They buy $X worth of stuff, they sell $Y worth of stuff, and $X - $Y is the shrinkage. It's not like the RIAA making up wild-ass numbers about the loss due to music piracy.
posted by delmoi at 10:19 PM on November 27, 2008


It doesn't bother me that they apply some force, but obviously if loss prevention is going to go so far as to knock people down and try to restrain them, they need to be properly trained.

Why doesn't it bother you? Are these people legally granted law enforcement powers? In my opinion, there are very, VERY limited times when someone not authorized by democratically elected governments has the right to use force against another person: 1) to protect your own safety; 2) to protect another person's safety. To recover merchandise does not qualify. Let the LP staff ask the person to go to the manager's office; guide them physically, but in a way that cannot cause physical harm. If they attack you, then you have the right to defend yourself by subduing them; if they run, you have a face, hopefully a picture on camera, and you can follow them to their car and get a license plate and let the cops take over or flag down a legally authorized authority to help you catch the person.

"Who is stealing from who?"

From whom.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:27 PM on November 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


They buy $X worth of stuff, they sell $Y worth of stuff, have $Z worth of stuff still in stock and $X - $Y - $Z is the shrinkage.


/pedantry
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:28 PM on November 27, 2008


I'm wary of any untrained or unaccountable personnel exercising force. If Wal-Mart (or anyone else) wants to restrain someone for theft, they better have both training and a system of accountability. If this is done right, I see no logical problem with a shopkeeper stopping theft. Then again, some numbskulls will find away to prove me wrong again and again.

I shoplifted once when I was about six. While I was at a grocery store, I noticed the gum packages weren't all aligned because there was an extra one on top. Clearly this had to be fixed so I took the extra package of spearmint. When in the family van, my well-meaning procurement was discovered, I was shouted at, and I wasn't allowed to have any of the donuts everyone else got. I remember crying quite a bit because I felt so ashamed.

To this day, I'm really not a big gum fan.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:37 PM on November 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


From a mailing list that I am on I just heard about a different take on Buy Nothing Day:
(I'm not trying to promote the idea, it just gave me a chuckle...)

> Buy Nothing Day
> North America: Friday, November 28
> A 24 hour moratorium on consumer spending. Participate by not
participating.

STEAL SOMETHING DAY
a shameless 24-hour stealing spree!

November 26, 1999 - Participate by participating!
(Press release from http://tao.ca/~lombrenoire)

For the past eight years, a few self-described "culture jammers" from
Adbusters Magazine have dubbed the last Friday in November "Buy
Nothing Day."

>From their stylish home base in Vancouver's upscale suburb of
Kitsilano, the Adbusters' brain trust has encouraged conscientious
citizens worldwide to "relish [their] power as a consumer to change
the economic environment." In their words, Buy Nothing Day "proves how
empowering it is to step out of the consumption stream for even a
day."

The geniuses at Adbusters have managed to create the perfect
feel-good, liberal, middle-class activist non-happening. A day when
the more money you make, the more influence you have (like every other
day). A day which, by definition, is insulting to the millions of
people worldwide who are too poor or marginalized to be considered
"consumers."

It's supposed to be a 24-hour moratorium on spending, but ends up
being a moralistic false-debate about whether or not you should really
buy that loaf of bread today or ... wait for it ... tomorrow!

Well, this year, while the Adbusters cult enjoys yet another Buy
Nothing Day, accompanied by their fancy posters, stickers, TV and
radio advertisements and slick webpages, a few self-described
anarcho-situationists from Montreal's East End are inaugurating Steal
Something Day.

Unlike Buy Nothing Day, when people are asked to "participate by not
participating," Steal Something Day demands that we "participate by
participating." Instead of downplaying or ignoring the capitalists,
CEOs, landlords, small business tyrants, bosses, PR hacks, yuppies,
media lapdogs, corporate bureaucrats, politicians and cops who are
primarily responsible for misery and exploitation in this world, Steal
Something Day demands that we steal from them, without discrimination.

The Adbusters' intellegentsia tell us that they're neither "left nor
right," and have proclaimed a non-ideological crusade against
overconsumption. Steal Something Day, on the other hand, identifies
with the historic and contemporary resistance against the causes of
capitalist exploitation, not its symptoms. If you think
overconsumption is scary, wait until you hear about capitalism and
imperialism.

Unlike the misplaced Buy Nothing Day notion of consumer empowerment,
Steal Something Day promotes empowerment by urging us to collectively
identify the greedy bastards who are actually responsible for
promoting misery and boredom in this world. Instead of ignoring them,
Steal Something Day encourages us to make their lives as uncomfortable
as possible.

As we like to say in Montreal: diranger les riches dans leurs niches!

And remember, we're talking about stealing, not theft. Stealing is
just. Theft is exploitative. Stealing is when you take a yuppie's BMW
for a joyride, and crash into a parked Mercedes just for the hell of
it. Theft is when you take candy from a baby's mouth.

Stealing is the re-distribution of wealth from rich to poor Theft is
making profits at the expense of the disadvantaged and the natural
environment. Stealing is an unwritten a tax on the rich. Theft is
taxing the poor to subsidize the rich. Stealing is nothing more than a
tax on the rich. There is solidarity in stealing, but property is
nothing but theft.

So, don't pay for that corporate newspaper, but steal all of them from
the box. Get some friends together and go on a "shoplifting "spree at
the local chain supermarket or upscale mall. With an even larger mob,
get together and steal from the local chain book or record store.
Pilfer purses and wallets from easily identified yuppies and business
persons. Skip out on rent. Get a credit card under a fake name and
don't pay. Keep what you can use, and give away everything else in the
spirit of mutual aid that is the hallmark of Steal Something Day.

Download our detourned poster http://tao.ca/~lombrenoire, make copies
and stick it up wherever you can. And don't forget, send your scamming
and stealing tips to us at lombrenoire@tao.ca.

See you next Steal Something Day which, unlike Buy Nothing Day,
happens every day of the year.
posted by metaname at 11:05 PM on November 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


That Dutch clip is screamingly funny.
posted by telstar at 11:38 PM on November 27, 2008


I want to see the Dutch shoplifter's face!
posted by Cranberry at 12:08 AM on November 28, 2008


The death of Stacy Driver at a WalMart in Texas was listed as a homicide. He was a petty theft suspect killed by WalMart Loss Prevention wannabe cops. WalMart paid off the family for $750,000.

In 1989, Alive Walton killed a 50-year-old pedestrian mother of two, in an automobile accident in Springdale, Arkansas. Although Walton was speeding, and had been been ticketed multiple times over the previous year for reckless driving incidents, no charges were filed in connection to the 1989 fatality. In 1996, Walton was cited for driving while intoxicated and fined $925.
(via)

It's sad Wal-Mart got off so cheap. :(
posted by jeffburdges at 12:33 AM on November 28, 2008


Get a credit card under a fake name and
don't pay.


note to self: remember part two this time...
posted by longsleeves at 12:45 AM on November 28, 2008


They buy $X worth of stuff, they sell $Y worth of stuff, they throw an unknown amount $W of stuff away, have $Z worth of stuff still in stock and $X - $W - $Y - $Z is the shrinkage.

The problem for most retail stores, especially food retailers, is that stock is regularly damaged, moved (frozen food dumped off on a normal shelf), smashed or otherwise unsold, but not stolen. That doesn't even include material that doesn't even make it to the shelves in the first place. Stock takes are rare, lengthy processes to boot. Distinguishing the 5 fingered discount from customers, the same from staff and just natural wastage is a lot more complicated than you'd think.

McDonald's partially tackle this by having staff go through the staff wastebins at the end of the shift to count every bad burger thrown away that wasn't paid for. (They don't go through the customer bins, obviously) - which is one reason I never worked for McD's when I was a cash-strapped pimply teenager.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:54 AM on November 28, 2008


I wonder if the loss prevention people ever attack the wrong person, who then smites them. Or are they savvy enough (doubtful) to pick targets they're fairly sure would go down easy?
posted by adipocere at 12:54 AM on November 28, 2008


McDonald's partially tackle this by having staff go through the staff wastebins at the end of the shift to count every bad burger thrown away that wasn't paid for... which is one reason I never worked for McD's

I worked at a Burger King and we had a special bucket to put unserved product in. Going through that bucket was actually one of the least unpleasant tasks around the kitchen as most things were usually wrapped and had only been in there a few hours. Compared to scraping the rancid beef giblets out of the broiler's catch pan, it was a treat. So much so that the managers usually did it.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:35 AM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Haha, people at that HEMA shop are rather cool. I'd almost go to Amstelveen to congratulate them on their sense of humour.
posted by jouke at 2:26 AM on November 28, 2008


> I worked at a Burger King and we had a special bucket to put unserved product in.

Once upon a time I worked at Lick's, and they did the same thing. They were totally maniacal about keeping track of wasted food; they didn't count every single french fry in the bin at the end of the night, but the manager had to provide a rough estimate of how many were in there. They ran a tight ship at Lick's, in a British navy sort of way.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:24 AM on November 28, 2008


Why doesn't it bother you? Are these people legally granted law enforcement powers?

they have the right to defend their property within the limits of the law - i'm sure you're not going to let me just walk into your house and take your tv with you watching it
posted by pyramid termite at 5:17 AM on November 28, 2008


I enjoy stealing. It's just as simple as that.
posted by milquetoast at 5:37 AM on November 28, 2008


Is that a color guard at the end of the HEMA clip? Huh?
posted by thalakan at 7:35 AM on November 28, 2008


When I worked retail, I remember our Loss Prevention guy telling us - in a talk that included the instructions to never touch a suspected shoplifter - that employee theft was responsible for a much greater percentage of shrinkage than shoplifting. My husband worked at the wonderful Tattered Cover in Denver and told me about the vanload of books they recovered from a longtime employee who had literally lined her basement with them. Another one of his co-workers advised him (hopefully in jest) that, during his yearly review, he not answer the question "What do you like best about working here?" with "Free books!"
posted by bibliowench at 8:05 AM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


pyramid termite: they have the right to defend their property within the limits of the law - i'm sure you're not going to let me just walk into your house and take your tv with you watching it

Don't confuse what's legally permitted to defend your property with what's legally permitted to stop unknown invaders in your home. In some places, they're the same, but in many places much less force is permitted for the first than for the second.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:07 AM on November 28, 2008


Also, the defense of your house is just that ... for your house. They don't call it "The Castle Doctrine" for nothing, as in "a man's home is his."

Wal-mart, not so much. Wal-mart isn't a home. As much as they try to push it through law, some fictitious entity which exists only on paper is not a human being. Say it with me: corporations aren't people. Corporations aren't people. Corporations aren't people.
posted by adipocere at 8:20 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wal-mart, not so much. Wal-mart isn't a home. As much as they try to push it through law, some fictitious entity which exists only on paper is not a human being. Say it with me: corporations aren't people. Corporations aren't people. Corporations aren't people.

Not really true. A corporation is, in fact, an assemblage of thousands of people. They all work together to produce something and earn money. That money is then distributed (equally or not) among the people that make up the corporation. That includes the employees who really need their job, the CEOs who don't, and the investors, many of whom are ordinary middle-class people who put in some of their hard-earned money and are hoping to get a little more back so they can retire some day.

Complaining about the policies of a corporation is fine. With Wal-Mart, there's plenty to complain about. But stealing from them only hurts ordinary people. You think the rich decision-makers in the company absorb those losses? Please.
posted by Xezlec at 8:59 AM on November 28, 2008


I'm wary of any untrained or unaccountable personnel exercising force. If Wal-Mart (or anyone else) wants to restrain someone for theft, they better have both training and a system of accountability. If this is done right, I see no logical problem with a shopkeeper stopping theft. Then again, some numbskulls will find away to prove me wrong again and again.

I'm wary of police exercising force. If the fuzz (or anyone else) wants to restrain someone for theft, they better have both training and a system of accountability. If this is done right, I see no logical problem with a cop stopping theft. Then again, some asshole police here in Austin will find a way to prove me wrong again and again.
posted by Xezlec at 9:07 AM on November 28, 2008


Bibliowench - when I worked retail, our main loss one Christmas was, indeed, employee theft. Some kid walked away with $500 from the till.

"Shrinkage", as far as I can tell, is a catch-all term for theft (employee/customer), waste, breakage, and stuff that just goes missing. Shoplifters are only part of the problem.
posted by sandraregina at 9:19 AM on November 28, 2008


Xezlec — you seem to have confused the point of what I said, namely that Castle Doctrine doesn't apply here because corporations aren't flesh and blood human beings defending their home from invasion, with some other thing which I did not say, which sounds like "Shoplifting is okay."

If I had wanted to say "Shoplifting is alright with me. We need more of it. Screw 'em." I would have done so. I didn't.
posted by adipocere at 9:37 AM on November 28, 2008


I saw various estimates of U.S. shoplifting losses per year from about $10 - $25 billion.

Chump change.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:22 AM on November 28, 2008


So I can steal 47 things. Got it.

*barks at milquetoast*

“There's nothing that can be stolen from a Wal*Mart that justifies assault. This isn't defending your home.”

Definately. I can see maybe locking the door, confronting them. But I can’t see laying hands on someone. At the very least because they don’t pay store security enough to risk getting hurt. (And don’t front the benefits, just not worth it) - essentially what Saxon Kane said.
Theft from a store, especially a non-violent (albiet harmful) crime like shoplifting, is in no way equivalent to home invasion.
I wake up in the middle of the night and someone is in my house who shouldn’t be, they’re dead (quietly if I find them), because I have no idea what their intent is.

A store is a public place. You have license to be on that private property. Certainly one violates that licesnse when one steals, but there’s no real ambiguity in intent. They’re not there to harm or kidnap someone, if they haven’t displayed firearms, they’re not going to shoot up the place, so there is absolutely no reason to use force.


That said I do have a situation that applied sort of both ways.
My mom got me a job at the place she worked as store “secuurity.”
I’d routinely watch people walk right out of the store with stuff. I wasn’t allowed to stop them. Which, really, was a good thing in retrospect. I was a pretty big, aggressive kid.

So “managers” (basically people who weren’t being paid minimum wage) were supposed to stop people. So my mom was closest when the alarm went off and she came over and said “We have to see if there were any tags left on -” blah blah blah, all routine if you’ve been at a store with sensors.
So the bags didn’t ring but the two people - a man and a woman - who went through did. So we checked their shoes for those sticky sensors. Nada. Well, it’s pretty obvious they’ve got stuff all over their bodies under their clothes.

Meanwhile more folks who seem to look and be dressed just like these two come over.
And the two who were stopped were arguing with the actual manager of the store who came over. I guess one of them the girl, decided she’d had enough. Well my mom was standing in her way by the door, not so much purposefuly to block her, just to stay out of the way of people coming in.
So they collided. And the guy grabbed my mom by the hair and shoved her head off to the side.
He was pretty much meat paste a few moments later and while I was stomping the heel of my timberland boot into his face, his buddies - who it was later determined were Roma - came over to help.
Well, they weren’t that big and I was training very hard then and the sensor tower deals on the sides of the door pretty much blocked them from me so I could take them one at a time.

Pretty short work all told. They were wearing slick bottomed fashion boots, so they had no real traction.
Anyway, I had wristlocked the last guy and was going to work on the last of his unbroken fingers when the cops showed up.

They grabbed me, obviously, they had me cuffed and on a table before the store manager could tell them I was the ‘guard.’ So they let me up. Got some of the story, started reading me the riot act over stopping people at the door.

I said “That guy grabbed and hit my mom.”

Took the cops a minute to register. Was I saying he went to my house and hit my mom? Was my mom shopping? Did I know this guy from somewhere and this happened before?
No, my mom was the ‘manager’ with the bloody nose over there. (She had gotten into it with one of the ladies, also floored - real lucky my mom didn’t have her blade. Did I mention she grew up in a ghetto?)

Oh, so your mom works here. (They looked at my mom) With you. (They looked at me) Oh. (They looked at the bloody messes on the ground). Oh....Oh.
Ok.
They uncuffed me.

So the cops wanted me to press charges against the guys writhing on the floor with broken bones and fish hooked mouths (one of my uncles was teaching Chin Na Su at the time) and wanted my mom to press charges for assault.

Well we didn’t want to do that. I was competing at the time and that might have looked bad for me and my mom and I would have had to take time off work to go to court, and we couldn’t afford that.

The store manager was being a hard ass though and was pushing to press charges.
Well, we all wind up at the station to make statements anyway, whether we’re going to press charges or not.
(Chicago cops. Yeah, you're not going to the hospital first, cheek or no cheek)

By that time the King of the Gypsies shows up (as told to me second hand, I don’t know if it was one of the Tenes, but it was clear this guy wasn’t the go-between for the gaje). He’s pissed off - at the store for pressing charges, at us for beating on them, at his people for getting caught.

So there’s another sort of beef going on when he learns (from a cop I guess) that one of his guys grabbed my mom.

He looks me up and down, nods (mostly to himself), asks what the bail is, pulls out a huge wad of bills and pays it all in cash except for the guy who grabbed my mom, and they all go. (Eventually I guess they brought the guy to the hospital. I suppose I didn't much care.)

Meantime we don’t get paid for the time we had to spend downtown making a statement.
So.

There’s a massive difference between protecting your family and your home and protecting a corporation. When it comes down to it, your family is going to be there for you, and people are going to understand it if you protect them.
Corporations, not so much.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:56 AM on November 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Xezlec — you seem to have confused the point of what I said, namely that Castle Doctrine doesn't apply here because corporations aren't flesh and blood human beings defending their home from invasion, with some other thing which I did not say, which sounds like "Shoplifting is okay."

OK, I guess I misunderstood. I have no idea what "Castle Doctrine" is. Most of the time when someone I know says "corporations aren't people," it's (coincidentally enough) to justify shoplifting. I guess I'm used to that pattern.

What I want to know is, have cops ever knocked on someone's door and arrested them because a store reported their license plate or something? I can't picture that happening. My experience with police is that they don't have time for that kind of stuff, and if you call a detective to ask about a theft or burglary, the impression you get is that they just write that stuff off. They have more important cases.

What's your ideal solution to the problem? I'd like to hear some other ideas here. What the Dutch store did involved laying hands on the person. What if you owned a store and theft was putting you out of business? Would you just close up shop and blame yourself? Rig the doors to close and lock whenever the beepy thing goes off? Photograph them and put up "have you seen this man" photos all over town at your own expense? Become a Republican and start supporting Sheriff Joe? It seems like a legitimate question to me.

When it comes down to it, your family is going to be there for you, and people are going to understand it if you protect them.

Am I alone in finding that sentence (along with most of that story) frightening? But then again, I've never been to Chicago.
posted by Xezlec at 11:49 AM on November 28, 2008


Am I alone in finding that sentence (along with most of that story) frightening?

Not very frightening, but certainly twisted that it's being trotted out to defend... whatever point it is that smedleyman is trying to defend.

I also don't see the relevance. Once someone becomes violent, obviously the situation has changed. It's no longer about shoplifting.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:29 PM on November 28, 2008


Political shoplifting?

*google*

Presented without comment
posted by DU at 2:53 PM on November 28, 2008


A Target cashier I know recently told me that employees there are instructed not to stop or interfere with shoplifters. Only the security manager will approach a suspectedly lightfingered person or group and if he's not immediately available, the merchandise walks away.

Yeah, at Borders we were told to notify the manager of suspected shoplifting, and to question anyone who set off the detector... but if you set off the detector and don't WANT to come back into the store, we can't make you.

Thing is, any reasonable shoplifter has a boost bag in the first place, so they're not GOING to set off the detector.

One time, a bunch of teenagers pranked 9-11, called in "chest pains" in the café and when the store staff was occupied trying to direct the EMTs and find the phantom caller, the kids grabbed the whole bottom shelf load of DVDs from one section (~80 DVDs) and ran out of the store.

They were so chased down by the police and totally busted within five minutes. There's no further point to this story.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:50 PM on November 28, 2008


"Once someone becomes violent, obviously the situation has changed. It's no longer about shoplifting."

Well, it isn't about shoplifting for you anyway. If you work there, no one's got your back really, if you get hurt.
The difference being, at home, you're protecting your family. That's why violence is justified.
At work, you're protecting merchandise. There's no justification for violence. Or even confrontation really. It's the police's job.
Point of the story is both that people understand that protecting your home is pretty much just protecting the people you love (in my case, my mom) and that it's unfair for any company to put you in a confrontational position where you might get hurt or hurt someone else.
Seemed obvious really.
(Someone, other than my mom, should have come to the door. Or I shouldn't have had to work security on days my mom was there, etc. etc. But it's not in the company's interest, really, to care. So they don't. As an adult, looking back, there's no way I'd put people in that position)
Loss prevention is an issue in areas with less police coverage because in some respects you have to do the policing yourself. But again, no excuse.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:22 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


(anyway, someone said I should tell more stories. So fuck me. I'll stop)
posted by Smedleyman at 8:23 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I had a friend who worked at a Dillard's department store in high school. They had a policy (this was around 1993-96) of not touching a shoplifting suspect, but instead getting on the intercom and calling out in secret code to the security guard. "I need 8 pairs of argyle socks to register 3" or something like that, and the guard would go stand by the door.

Apparently, you can stuff all the merchandise you want down your pants. You're not shoplifting until you make a break for it, so that's where the guard would stand.

Well, my friend sees two women blatantly taking clothes off the rack and stuffing them in their backpacks. Like, it's totally obvious.

She sighs, picks up the intercom phone, "I need 8 pairs of argyle socks to register 3" or whatever, and the guard apprehends the women as they leave the store. Case closed? Far from it.

A previous accomplice had gone into the store earlier and placed their own clothes on the rack. They weren't stealing Dillard's clothes, they were just taking their own wardrobe back out of the store. They sued for wrongful detainment (or something of the sort) and settled out of court.

She told me that something similar happened every year that she worked there. Someone would be detained for shoplifting, it would turn out that they didn't take anything, they'd sue, and Dillard's would settle. This is part of the reason that I decline to show my receipt to the people who stand at the doors of stores and ask to check to make sure I didn't steal anything (except CostCo). Fuck you, I just paid for this, I'm not a thief; if you think I am you can call the cops, otherwise step aside and let me get to where I'm going.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:54 PM on November 28, 2008


(anyway, someone said I should tell more stories. So fuck me. I'll stop)

No! No! It was a good story. I didn't mean it like that. It evoked an emotion. That means it's a good story. Right?
posted by Xezlec at 10:19 AM on November 29, 2008


Wow. I'm all for anti-corporate activism and blah blah blah, but the people in the link DU posted are total douche-dongles. They advocate stealing from SCHOOLS and THEATERS? What the fuck, assholes?
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:30 PM on November 29, 2008


Lick's

Mmm...routine.
posted by oaf at 8:57 AM on November 30, 2008


no no no, mr smedley! please! regale us with stories in plenty! my ears always prick up when i detect that distinctive typesettery of yours!
posted by Philby at 8:50 PM on November 30, 2008


“That means it's a good story. Right?”

I don’t know if it means it’s a good story. I hope(d) it was indicative/illustrative of the point. And maybe a good story.
But I think I write too long as it is. But I tend to have to explain things. I dig where you’re coming from Xezlec, no harm man.

And I appreciate the love. I’m not fishing for compliments. I’m just trying not to monopolize the space, y’know.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:01 PM on December 1, 2008


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