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  #1  
Old 04-02-2011, 04:03 AM
tesseract tesseract is offline
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Retail workers: did you actually prosecute caught shoplifters?

The crazy customers thread made me think of an incident I witnessed a couple of years ago during the height of the holiday shopping season. I was in an interior mall, in the interior common area surrounded by shops. I watched a woman in her twenties who was carrying a medium/large shopping bag and talking on her cellular phone walk out of a clothing store. I think it was Abercrombie & Fitch or GAP or something like that. Two employees came out of the store very soon after her. They stopped her and apparently asked to look in her bag. She was still on her phone, and acted very nonchalant from what I could see. They took various items out of her bag, and went back into the store with the items, and she went on her merry way! Still on her phone! I was amazed.

My friend and I were talking about it while we were in a different store. We were surprised that there was no attempt to call the police or otherwise hold the woman responsible. A salesperson said, "I couldn't help but overhear you. The thing is, if they detained her and called the police, that would be very time-consuming. Someone would have to stay with her and deal with the police, the report, and that person would not be able to work for likely hours and help make actual sales. So more money would be lost prosecuting her. Especially at this time of year, we just want our merchandise back." I was sort of stunned - I completely understand what she was saying, but it just seems so...wrong! They just get away with it. Plus, presumably all the thieves know this. So there must be a lot of shoplifters this time of year?

If you worked retail, was this ever your experience/policy?
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  #2  
Old 04-02-2011, 04:44 AM
Eliahna Eliahna is online now
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We're not allowed to give chase, and if we think someone has been shoplifting we're supposed to approach them as they leave the store and say "Sir/Madam, I don't believe we've completed our transaction. Would you mind coming back into the store so we can finalize your purchases?" We aren't allowed to use the words "theft" or "stealing" and we have to maintain a pretense that the goods were accidentally taken and it was all a mistake no matter how blatant the attempted theft. With those conditions in mind, I've often wondered how we would prosecute anyone if we followed those rules, but to date it hasn't come up on my shift.

Experience suggests that it's likely that policy wouldn't be followed to the letter in the heat of the moment. I once heard a store manager tell a customer that switching out all the red pencils from the mixed color packs to make up a pack of only red pencils was "like stealing" and "effectively stealing" which I thought was a violation of the policy that said never to accuse someone of stealing, and that was to a guy who was actually trying to pay for his pack of all-red pencils. The manager disagreed with me on the basis that he qualified it with "like" and "effectively" but I suspect head office wouldn't have approved.

If someone runs from the store, or refuses to come back and "finalize their purchases", we're supposed to try to follow them and get details about their vehicle if we can (without chasing them), and we would hand those on to the police. Theoretically they could end up being prosecuted.
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  #3  
Old 04-02-2011, 05:04 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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I worked in a hardware store about 20 years ago. The short-sighted policy from head office was that unless a manager or assistant manager had verified the theft, regular staff could not declare it. Staff could alert a member of management to suspicious behavior but nothing else.

If a manager had verified a suspected theft, we were meant to phyisically detain the person until the police arrived - supposedly for every incident. I worked there a year and it never happened.

So one day I'm standing at the cash register and some dude walks in, goes to the back of the store, picks up a Black & Decker Workmate, which is a not insubstantial pack - about a 4' x 3' box - and starts walking towards the door with it. I rang the bell but the manager was out of the store and the assistant manager was out the back, stuffing her revolting lunch into her disgusting pig face (I didn't like her much...) and didn't respond. The guy grinned at me, winked, and walked past the register and out of the store. I told the manager later and he freaked out and started running round the town looking for the guy - think he would probably have attacked the guy and got arrested for assault.
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Old 04-02-2011, 06:45 AM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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In the dress shop, the owner (who lived in another state) actually did want us to prosecute thieves. The manager, however, hated this policy and would not do anything more than the bare minimum. The manager would get pissed about people who shoplifted, but I suspect that this is because some of the inventory was going out the back door, and the manager would write up tickets in a way that when the staff bought stuff, we'd receive our discounts, but it wouldn't count as an employee purchase. Employee purchases didn't count towards the monthy sales goals, and if we didn't make our goal, she didn't get her guaranteed minimum.

In the convenience store, we were told not to accuse anyone of stealing, for legal reasons. Also, we weren't supposed to give chase. Apparently, shoplifters would voluntarily pay up if we fixed them with a steely gaze and told them to pay for ALL of the items they had.
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  #5  
Old 04-02-2011, 07:18 AM
Chimera Chimera is offline
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When I worked overnight armed at the restaurant, we had a guy who walked out without paying.

Dumbshit then came back a half hour and tried to rob a guy just outside the front door. As he walked up, the waitress saw him coming and pointed him out to me. As I was walking out the front door 10 feet from him, he threatened an older guy and demanded cash. When he saw me, he ran.

I called the Mall cop next door (a former Special Forces guy I would not want to mess with) and he and another of our guys who was hanging out with him (another former military guy) chased the guy down and caught him in the drug store down the street attempting to shoplift a pair of sunglasses.

Yes, that's right. This guy was not only stupid enough to stiff a restaurant then come back, but to attempt to rob a guy right outside the doors while an armed security guard was right there, BUT ALSO when chased by two bad assed dudes, decided to stop and do a little shoplifting while on the run.

They detained his ass, returned the sunglasses (the drug store just took the glasses and told him never to come back) and drove him back over to the restaurant. Unfortunately, the guy he had tried to rob had left, so he wasn't going to be prosecuted for that. Then since it was only $10, the manager of the restaurant didn't want to waste a day or so in court for it and just demanded he pay up. Silly bastard had more than enough money in his pocket, so the guys who grabbed him took it and paid the bill (while he stood there in handcuffs objecting loudly that he needed the money).

Then he was banned from ever returning to both that restaurant and the surrounding mall. To which his response was to complain bitterly that he lived two blocks away and not allowing him to go to this mall meant he couldn't buy groceries in the store there. Boo hoo, should have thought of that first. Of course, given what he was pulling, it was obvious that he wasn't capable of that first thought.

For the record, this was a 20-something white guy who did not look like he was trash. He looked like a college student or something.

But still;

1) Stiff restaurant (theft)
2) Attempted robbery
3) Shoplifting

= No charges.
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  #6  
Old 04-02-2011, 07:22 AM
DCnDC DCnDC is offline
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When I worked at Safeway many years ago we actually had a county police substation in the parking lot. We wouldn't say a word to the (suspected) shoplifter, we would just call the police and they'd be waiting right outside the door for them in about 30 seconds. Then we would just have one of the bag-boys point him/her out and they'd handle the rest.

Corporate would not hesitate to press all possible charges.
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  #7  
Old 04-02-2011, 08:12 AM
scamartistry scamartistry is offline
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Originally Posted by Cazzle View Post
If someone runs from the store, or refuses to come back and "finalize their purchases", we're supposed to try to follow them and get details about their vehicle if we can (without chasing them), and we would hand those on to the police. Theoretically they could end up being prosecuted.
This is the saddest thing I've read in a while. What happened with the baseball bat behind the counter and that good 'ol wack to the head
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  #8  
Old 04-02-2011, 08:51 AM
Eliahna Eliahna is online now
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Originally Posted by scamartistry View Post
This is the saddest thing I've read in a while. What happened with the baseball bat behind the counter and that good 'ol wack to the head
I imagine people who got wacked on the head sued the employers of the wackers, and people who got wacked by the people they were supposed to be wacking sued their employers, and people who tripped over while pursuing or fleeing a wacking sued the employers, and eventually big businesses said "Enough with the wacking. It's not worth risking a five, six or seven figure lawsuit to stop people stealing two, three or four figure goods from our stores. From now on we'll only take on shoplifters who'll stop and agree to pay for things when asked politely to do so."

Also, I don't see myself in the role of baseball bat-wielding justice dispenser. Glad that's not in my job description.
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Old 04-02-2011, 08:58 AM
Jophiel Jophiel is online now
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Originally Posted by Cazzle View Post
Also, I don't see myself in the role of baseball bat-wielding justice dispenser. Glad that's not in my job description.
Yeah, it's been a long time since I've had a job where I felt so warmly about my employer that I was willing to take a punch (or a bullet) for them.
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  #10  
Old 04-02-2011, 09:00 AM
boytyperanma boytyperanma is offline
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When I was with Home Depot the policy was to prosecute any and all incidents of theft. In high theft incident stores and where the law allowed, Home Depot has non-uniformed employees with the authority to apprehend shoplifters by force.

Shortly after I left one of the local stores made national news because they went on to prosecute one of their regular customers for stealing a pencil(he paid for the other 130 bucks of merchandise). After some press they issued an apology but it was a overzealous enough incident they may have changed their policy.

I don't regularly work for gaming stores but have some experience working for a few of them and frequently hire on for conventions. Being small businesses they have less uniform policies and judgment calls are made. Generally the choice is to prosecute. With juveniles we tend to be more lenient and have a relationship with the police. If they are caught stealing the police are called and the police explain we are not pressing charges but have the right to do so, they are banned from the store if they choose to ignore that ban they are trespassing and the theft charge will also be pursued.

At conventions things are a bit more hectic so you do what time allows, if you have time to press charges you do. If not at a minimum you have the local security take there 'badge' away and escort them out of the show so they can't reenter. Badges tend to be a hundred dollars or more.

A recent case that came to mind for me was at a Star Wars convention we caught a guy stealing some figurines(30dollars retail). Grabbed him flagged security and got up to the police. The officer learned he was here on a Visa. He had over 2000 dollars on him. The officer talked it over we decided not to press charges. The officer told him to pay 60 bucks for the merchandise and ejected him from the show.
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  #11  
Old 04-02-2011, 09:16 AM
TokyoBayer TokyoBayer is online now
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Originally Posted by Cazzle View Post
I imagine people who got wacked on the head sued the employers of the wackers, and people who got wacked by the people they were supposed to be wacking sued their employers, and people who tripped over while pursuing or fleeing a wacking sued the employers, and eventually big businesses said "Enough with the wacking. It's not worth risking a five, six or seven figure lawsuit to stop people stealing two, three or four figure goods from our stores. From now on we'll only take on shoplifters who'll stop and agree to pay for things when asked politely to do so.
Not to mention those people were just shopping in the store, minding their own business and who got mistakenly whacked on the head by those who are supposed to whack shoplifters on the head, but being human, the employees sometimes make mistakes and whack innocent people on the head as well.
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  #12  
Old 04-02-2011, 10:25 AM
Brown Eyed Girl Brown Eyed Girl is offline
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One of the Starbucks I worked in a middle- to upper-class neighborhood was frequented by school kids. As I recall, the policy on shoplifting was not to pursue, but report the incident to the police and corporate, nonetheless. One time, though, we had a young, very large (picture high school defensive line) kid working the bar who spotted a young teen boy grabbing little bags of candy and heading for the door. Faster than lightening, our lineman bolts out from behind the bar at the back of the store and makes it out the door just as the kid is about to leave the sidewalk fronting the store and tells the kid in a very serious tone to come back in and sit down. He complied. Leaving the kid sitting at the table nearest the door, he comes to the backroom where I'm working and tells me he collared a shoplifter. "Where is he?" "Out front," he replies. At this point, I'm thinking the kid probably bolted, but when I come out front, there he is, sitting there and sobbing quietly. Apparently, the size and serious of our barista scared the bejesus out of him, although unbeknownst to him, that guy was a polite, affable, and somewhat quiet kid himself and wasn't more than five years senior.

The kid hands over the stolen goods (not more than $15 worth of candy) and begs not to be turned in. Sorry, kid. First offense, shouldn't be too bad. Just don't ever do it again. We called the police who arrested him and called his parents. My barista and I both filled out statements for the police and for corporate. I can't remember if my manager ever went to court, but I'm not sure that was required with the statements given. He probably only got a slap on the wrist, which I wouldn't expect much more than that, but I do hope the kid learned his lesson.

It was a little bit hard to do, but I felt like we all did the right thing. (ETA: Though, I did counsel my barista on the policy regarding pursuit.) The upside is that our shrink shrunk in the following months.

Last edited by Brown Eyed Girl; 04-02-2011 at 10:26 AM..
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  #13  
Old 04-02-2011, 10:38 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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I also worked in a gas station when I was a teenager. The owner said that if anyone came in and started an armed robbery, I was to tell them I had to get the keys to the safe. I would then pick up the phone and call him in the house next door and ask "can I have the keys to the safe". This was code for "come into the gas station with a shotgun and shoot the perpetrator".

Er... no. I wasn't going to get caught in crossfire for a guy (incidentally a racist antsemitic bigot) who paid me 1.40 an hour. As far as I was concerned, they could help themselves to whatever they wanted.
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  #14  
Old 04-02-2011, 11:33 AM
Left Hand of Dorkness Left Hand of Dorkness is online now
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Second-hand story:

A couple of weeks ago I was walking into a CVS drug store and saw a couple college girls sashaying out (really, they were totally sashaying). A frumpy old lady in a CVS uniform came out and yelled at them, and they stopped, and one of them put something in the trash can. They went back to the old lady, but she marched past them to the trash can and pulled what turned out to be a purse out of the trash can. By now, two other employees came out and corralled the two girls; by the time I got to the front, the girl with the purse was cornered in the shopping cart area and was quietly weeping and pleading with the store employees. Don't know how it ended, but those girls got caught dead to rights, and the CVS employees were putting the fear of God into them.
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Old 04-02-2011, 11:34 AM
Eats_Crayons Eats_Crayons is offline
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In the other thread I mentioned my crappy but brief retail job. Shortly before I worked there a shoplifter ran away and an employee gave chase through the mall. He intended to stop if the thief made it outside. So our employee chased him out the doors onto the sidewalk and then stopped, but a man in a car witnessed the chase, pulled over and tackled the guy. Police arrived, the thief was handcuffed and put in the back of the squad car where he started bashing his own face against the window and anything else nearby. He then tried to claim that my co-worker beat him up.

There was a very short "investigation" which consisted of a police officer checking the back of my co-worker's hands, but given witness reports, they weren't taking the allegations seriously. Between mall security footage and the two officers who watched him slamming his own face around their car, his false claims went nowhere. However, it became official store policy not to chase anyone because they didn't want to risk any lawsuits based on "assault."

Anyone who was caught shoplifting was told to have a seat and wait for mall security and the police to arrive. Surprisingly, few tried to run away. They were usually teenaged girls though. The store did prosecute.
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  #16  
Old 04-02-2011, 02:09 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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Stores sometimes will catch shoplifters, but rather than call police, just assess civil penalties. Most of the smaller stores at my local shopping mall do this, though the large department stores do call the police (and also assess the civil fine). See this article in the Wall St. Journal about how it's done. In my state, the stores can assess a fine up to $650 over the cost of the stolen merchandise, whether or not the merchandise was recovered, whether or not charges are brought. Some states allow a much larger penalty.
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  #17  
Old 04-02-2011, 07:54 PM
tesseract tesseract is offline
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Interesting responses! I'm glad that not all stores just let people get away with it....it's just sort of annoying that people steal when the rest of us pay. (Not counting food when you're starving...I saw guy stealing a box of cereal in a store one time - just put it in his courier-type bag. He saw that I saw.) He looked a little down on his luck and I made an executive decision to say nothing about it...

My brother worked retail for awhile, I should ask him. I remember him telling me about sophisticated thieves with bags that are lined with something that defeats the security tags. His store was occasionally (well once that I know of) victim to a "table swipe" where one person stands guard and when it's clear, one or two more walk up quickly to one of the tables that is very near to the entrance, and in one motion swipe all the clothes off the table into big bag and then they all run. In some stores they can get away with a good amount of merchandise that way.
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  #18  
Old 04-02-2011, 08:38 PM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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I have been in court on many occasions when people are being arraigned for shoplifting. Places like Target, Penney's, etc are intent on seeing prosecution. I've seen someone arrested in an Andronico's grocery store (high end East SF Bay Area) and the accused threatened repeatedly to kill the man arresting her.
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  #19  
Old 04-02-2011, 09:00 PM
MPB in Salt Lake MPB in Salt Lake is offline
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Originally Posted by tesseract View Post
My brother worked retail for awhile, I should ask him. I remember him telling me about sophisticated thieves with bags that are lined with something that defeats the security tags...
Years ago, I remember reading in a Criminology textbook that thieves who were caught with special devices to help them steal (bags sewn into the lining of their clothing, pliers to snip off security tags, etc.) when caught were dealt with MUCH more harshly by both the stores and then the courts, as they have shown premeditation in their shoplifting ways, as opposed to the teenager who slips something in a coat pocket on a spur-of-the-moment impulse.....

Makes sense, and I for one think that some veteran shoplifters might think twice if they were subjected to a bit of olde-fashoned "shame" based punishment, like standing outside of the store that they tried to rip-off, holding a sign telling all passersby what they were caught trying to do.

Not a popular opinion perhaps, but it might be more effective than having the offenders pretend to pick up trash along the highway on the weekends while the off-duty cop/work crew guard looks at porn on his cell-phone.

Last edited by MPB in Salt Lake; 04-02-2011 at 09:01 PM..
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  #20  
Old 04-02-2011, 09:04 PM
Mosier Mosier is offline
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I work in the Security department at one of the larger resorts on the Las Vegas strip. We almost always detain and prosecute shoplifters, except in cases when the shoplifter is a minor with their parents.
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  #21  
Old 04-03-2011, 04:02 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Final anecdote - a few months ago I was walking down the main shopping street in Oxford when three guys came running out of a well-known mobile phone retailer. They had scads of Blackberries and one of them had a display stand in his arms. Two of them got away, knocking down kids and old ladies, while a passer-by jumped on the third. I was enraged by how they'd slammed into people and jumped on the third guy's feet. A nearby security guard from a different store saw what was happening and also launched himself onto the shoplifter. We were holding him down as he struggled, waiting about 15 minutes for the cops to arrive. Anyway, while this was going on, one of the shop workers from the store that had been robbed came out and we shouted "can you help us?" (the crim had one hand on his own phone and was frantically deleting messages from it) and the guy replied "Sorry mate, I can't touch him - I'd get done for assault." Needless to say, I am not best disposed to that particular retailer any more.

Last edited by jjimm; 04-03-2011 at 04:02 AM..
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  #22  
Old 04-03-2011, 06:18 AM
Clothahump Clothahump is offline
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Theft is theft. All shoplifters should be prosecuted, period.

Back in the dim, dark days when I worked private security, the agency that I worked for would take a contract for recovery only. We would only take jobs where we apprehended the thief and called the cops. Needless to say, the stores we worked in had a marked decrease in shoplifting.
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Old 04-03-2011, 07:06 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Needless to say, I am not best disposed to that particular retailer any more.
For the Brits among us, the name is very similar to "Cuntphone Wankhouse".
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  #24  
Old 04-03-2011, 07:28 AM
Eliahna Eliahna is online now
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Originally Posted by tesseract View Post
His store was occasionally (well once that I know of) victim to a "table swipe" where one person stands guard and when it's clear, one or two more walk up quickly to one of the tables that is very near to the entrance, and in one motion swipe all the clothes off the table into big bag and then they all run. In some stores they can get away with a good amount of merchandise that way.
For that reason, we aren't supposed to have tables of easily-swipeable merch near the exits. Also, for some things that are tempting targets (I'm thinking specifically of multi-packs of printer cartridges that retail for about $120 and are small enough to slip into a bag) we're supposed to keep a very small quantity on the shelves and lock the rest away, even when that means we have to keep refilling the stock throughout the day because they're high sales items.
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Old 04-03-2011, 07:44 AM
Joey P Joey P is online now
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I've prosecuted plenty of people at my store. Normally if I see them pocket (or purse) something, I call the police and have them waiting in the parking lot. If they just grab something and take off I'll write down their plate number and call the cops. More often then not, the cops catch up with them sooner or later, and yes, we do press charges.
We also catch people stealing our pallets in the middle of the night as well.
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:35 PM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
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When I worked at Sears & Dillard's, we did. The latter employed moonlighting police officers (or sheriff's deputies) as security guards so they could walk around armed and make arrests. The former didn't go that far, but they'd hold people for the police.
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Old 04-06-2011, 05:50 PM
kiz kiz is offline
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Originally Posted by scamartistry View Post
This is the saddest thing I've read in a while. What happened with the baseball bat behind the counter and that good 'ol wack to the head
Lawsuits, basically.

IANAL, but I suppose one could clobber a thief with a bat "because they were stealing".

The possibility the accused could turn around and slap a lawsuit on the store for any number of reasons is there, the most obvious being "assault with a deadly weapon" (i.e., the bat...or whatever implement the clerk grabbed).

Mind you, the feeling of wanting to clobber a thief with a bat is very much there
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  #28  
Old 04-06-2011, 07:03 PM
scamartistry scamartistry is offline
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I hear ya, I would crack his bloody skull. it would probably be impossible to stop hitting once you started.
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  #29  
Old 04-06-2011, 07:18 PM
Kevbo Kevbo is online now
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They did when I worked retail, but that was 25 years ago, so it wouldn't surprise me if things are different now. They would be confronted, and the uncooperative ones were manhandled, handcuffed, and frog marched to the security office. They were then turned over to local police who filed the actual criminal charges. They caught several per week, probably less than 10/week max, and usually <5, I would think.

The store had a security department which was a manager and 3-4 worker bees (the manager did real work too, but not as much because he/she had to do all the paperwork too). There was at least one working at all times and 2-3 on weekends and other busy times.

The store had a number of one-way mirrors and observation decks in the stock rooms. Due to the stock rooms, there were several of what amounted to secret passages, so the security people could more or less secretly track the suspected shoplifters as they moved through the store.

Because I'm 6'5" and not skinny, I was asked to help a couple of times, and because I was young and stupid I did. In one case the security guy knew which door the guy was going to exit by (maybe he saw him come in?) and positioned me to block the guy's escape. I ended up tackling him. It was fun at the time, but not something I would advise. In the other cases I was just there for the intimidation factor when a somewhat petite security lady was confronting a larger suspect.

The security manager, who was not even remotely petite, also had me hang out with her in the office when she was holding male suspects for the police, so they couldn't claim there was any attempts at hanky panky. They'd grab a female associate as a witness if one of the secuity guys was detaining a female suspect. Other than that there wasn't much concern about lawsuits, and I never heard of any problems in that direction.

Another time I had a speeding ticket I took to court. A shoplifting case came up before I was called, and the stunning redhead * pleaded guilty. I saw her in the store a couple days later, tipped security, and sure enough she hadn't learned anything from getting caught before.

The biggest case they prosecuted, though, was a group of my colleagues. I may have contributed to that because I refused to approve a refund for a high ticket item that had a receipt which was an obvious carbon copy. (remember carbon paper?) One of the group worked on the loading dock, so they were stealing thousands of dollars worth of big ticket items including major appliances. They were also returning stolen goods for refunds, and processing refunds for goods that never left the store at all. They were not smart at all about it, and it was amazing how much they got away with before getting busted...though security did let them get away with a couple of things after they were wise to the scams just so they could document it on one of those newfangled (at the time) VCRs.

I don't think the thief (thieves?) were ever caught, but one time someone hid in the store (the broke a window outward to escape) after closing. They took a power saw from the hardware department and cut through the wall where the sporting-goods department kept the guns locked up.

This was all at the Monkey Ward in North Valley Mall in Thornton, CO. I worked there through college, from 1981 'till 1985.

* Relevant because all pretty blonds all look alike to me.
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  #30  
Old 04-06-2011, 07:23 PM
Yarster Yarster is offline
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I remember shopping in a Robinson's-May in San Diego with what looked to be several other shoppers in the immediate area that were actually undercover security. An overweight Filipino lady walked by casually with a bag and three of the 'shoppers' (two men and a woman) suddenly grabbed her in unison and demanded to look in her bag, then hauled her off to a back room area. I was impressed at how fast they acted and how quickly the whole thing went down. This was during a big holiday sale and the store was crowded, but they seemed pretty hellbent on catching this woman before she left the store and I have no doubt they prosecuted her. I have also heard that Target stores are notorious for chasing down and prosecuting shoplifters by reputation, but I have never personally witnessed that.
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Old 04-06-2011, 07:40 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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The first two general retail stores I worked at prosecuted all thieves they caught. The cops got called to pick up the juveniles too. Sometime loss prevention would have to go to court and they went. Some thieves were chased for a couple blocks.

Last edited by Harmonious Discord; 04-06-2011 at 07:41 PM..
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  #32  
Old 04-06-2011, 08:01 PM
Time Stranger Time Stranger is offline
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The Target where I worked briefly in college did take shoplifting very seriously, and they prosecuted whenever they could. The entire staff was trained on how to recognize and report thieves, not only when you're first hired but they would have "security fair" days throughout the year. We had a huge security team (with weapons, handcuffs, and they were allowed to tackle customers) and a really nice set up of cameras, walkie talkies with spoken codes, and undercover cops in the store. My store was really anal about it, and they said once we were in the top 5 Targets in the world with regards to loss prevention. Getting a spot on the security team was actually quite a coveted honor, everyone wanted to be on it.

At the TJ Maxx, on the other hand, you couldn't do/say anything and they never really bothered to call the police unless a customer started assaulting someone. People would take huge piles of clothes into their arms, tags a-waving, and just dash out the front doors. Once they hit the door, they were free. I'm pretty sure something like 75% of the employees there also stole with gleeful abandon. A rather stark difference.
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  #33  
Old 04-06-2011, 08:55 PM
Winnipeg Winnipeg is online now
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In the UK you cant be accused of shoplifting unless you have actually left the shop with the unpaid for goods. While you are still in the shop/store you have not actually stolen the item, even if you have secreted it about your person.
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  #34  
Old 04-07-2011, 05:16 AM
EvilTOJ EvilTOJ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MPB in Salt Lake View Post
Years ago, I remember reading in a Criminology textbook that thieves who were caught with special devices to help them steal (bags sewn into the lining of their clothing, pliers to snip off security tags, etc.) when caught were dealt with MUCH more harshly by both the stores and then the courts, as they have shown premeditation in their shoplifting ways, as opposed to the teenager who slips something in a coat pocket on a spur-of-the-moment impulse.....
You're thinking of a booster bag. It's just aluminum foil hidden in the lining of a bag so the electronic sensor is shielded like a Faraday cage. Some retailers use electronic tags used on clothing that also have dye packs in them, so if they're not unlocked the proper way they'll spray ink all over the place.
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  #35  
Old 04-07-2011, 09:40 AM
Shecky Shecky is offline
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In a word, yes. I worked at a grocery store that was in a good part of a bad town. We used to have shoplifters all the time. Highlights:
1. The woman pinned to the floor by the asst manager (who really was the glue of that place) waving around a hypodermic needle yelling that she had AIDS and was going to stab him to give it him too.
2. They guy I saw on the way out thorugh the IN door, carrying a hand basket full of steaks. Too bad for him I happened to be signing my paycheck on the way in, so I simply wrote down the plates # and had the courtesy desk girls call the police while they cashed my paycheck.
3. The con artist that would write out a check for a certain amount over the bill (a common paractice normally) on a company check, but only get in the busiest line and start throwing out numbers at you as you try to count, a la Harry the Hat in Cheers. It would've worked, too, if the mgmt hadn't JUST given us a seminar on the scam and gave explicit directions, "Call us and close your lane. We will count your drawer and give the money, no problem."

Honorable Mention goes to the shoplifter that used to have his girlfriend go through the line right before him and distract the cashier with her mesh top. He got one of the other guys pretty good until he bumped another cashier on the way out and she screamed. They found almost $400 in steaks and such crammed in his MC Hammer pants.
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  #36  
Old 04-07-2011, 09:53 AM
Dung Beetle Dung Beetle is offline
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When I worked at Eckerds, we never caught shoplifters…just waved our hands ineffectually as they dashed out the door.
However, the guy that robbed the pharmacy at gunpoint was later arrested.
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  #37  
Old 04-07-2011, 01:52 PM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevbo View Post
Another time I had a speeding ticket I took to court. A shoplifting case came up before I was called, and the stunning redhead * pleaded guilty. I saw her in the store a couple days later, tipped security, and sure enough she hadn't learned anything from getting caught before.
This reminds me of an instance in my youth in which I attempted to be an asshole but was frustrated by someone else's dishonesty.

In my twenties I worked at two different Sears stores (not simultaneously). At the first of them I met a guy whom I'll call Daryl. I hated dated for several reasons, all but one of which were petty. Anyway, I left that store to go into banking, and then took a job at a second Sears on nighst & weekends in the interests of building savings. At the time there was a thief hitting various Sears stores in the city -- not shopping, but going to an unattended register, doing a no-sale, and taking what cash he could grab. (At the time, Sears printed employees' id numbers on the receipts, so that was easily done.) One day I saw Daryl in my store, ostensibly shopping. Because I was an immature jackass, I decided to cause him some trouble with security, so I called the Loss Prevention office and reported that there was a suspicious person in the department where he was shopping. So they put the cameras on him.

Lo and behold, they actually DID catch him trying to rob a register; he WAS the no-sale thief. So he got caught and arrested, and because I could identify him by name from security tapes at the other stores, he got sent away. I got a nice reward and was made associate for the month; my store manager thought I was a genius.

(Not my immediate manager; she figured out that I had just been a jackass, but she thought it was funny.)

Last edited by Skald the Rhymer; 04-07-2011 at 01:55 PM..
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  #38  
Old 04-07-2011, 05:42 PM
maplekiwi maplekiwi is offline
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I was behind someone in a queue at our local supermarket who was stopped for shoplifting, so over here (NZ) I would say the law is that you can be stopped as soon as you have finished your dealings at the cash register. Thats why the cashier always asks "Will there be anything else?"

I work at the same supermarket now. The security guy has a room wallpapered with the pictures of shoplifters. I don't know if they always prosecute, but they are photographed, trespassed from our store, the attached mall & The Warehouse (the equivalent of your Walmart) for two years. & its enforced.We are a small town with no other budget supermarket for quite some distance. I wouldn't think its worth it myself.

Last edited by maplekiwi; 04-07-2011 at 05:47 PM..
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  #39  
Old 04-07-2011, 10:30 PM
expectopatronum expectopatronum is offline
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not a factor at my current job, but happened all the time at my old job at a grocery store.

the shoplifter would be detained in the manager's office while they called the cops, banned from the property, and arrested. every single time, they didn't screw around.

an amusing story: a woman cashed her child support check at the customer service counter and proceeded to go shopping. she filled her cart and walked out the door without paying. after cashing her check, which had her name, address, and driver's license number on it. the police were called and they went to her house and arrested her there. epic fail.
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  #40  
Old 04-08-2011, 11:52 AM
Projammer Projammer is offline
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Once I was in a court room in a jury pool just waiting and watching while they finished out some other cases. One of them was a man who had shoplifted a carton of cigarettes at WalMart and then had gotten violent when they attempted to detain him. It was his 3rd or 4th conviction so he had his repeat offender badge.

He was sentenced to 40 years.
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  #41  
Old 04-08-2011, 02:41 PM
Marc Xenos Marc Xenos is offline
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A friend of mine works as Asset Protection (which includes more than just Loss Prevention) at Walmart and I hear much interesting stuff. It's pretty much the same at Target, too. There is a legal process that must be followed; otherwise, a criminal case can be lost for breaks in the evidence path. When that's the case, a "wrongly"-accused shoplifter could turn around an sue the store. It's also why only AP can detain, as they've been trained for it, and corporate training is a very effective playbook strategy for defense attorneys. Other employees can alert AP, but cannot do any detaining.

Apparently he's pretty effective, because he's had to go to court a few times to testify, which resulted in conviction. One case, the defendant was going to fight it all the way to the end, until the day of jury selection, that so was the store. Then he copped a plea.

Some items just aren't expensive enough to warrant criminal prosecution, but that doesn't mean the shoplifter gets away with it. There's still civil fines, which can be calculated involving the amount of the AP's time at his rate of pay (including annual benefits broken down to an hourly rate), along with other store resources. A lousy $10 theft can cost as much as $250, which the shoplifter would then have to take to court to contest. The cost of a lawyer, alone, would wipe out any success.

And then there is the Trespass, which is an order to stay out of the store for 6 months, a year, or forever, depending on the situation. And a Trespass order may apply to just the one store, or all stores in the entire chain. No, you don't have a "right" to shop at any store you choose; they're private businesses that can refuse you for any reason except those specified by law, which is race, religion, nationality, or gender. And while Trespass may seem minor, if you do return and if they do recognize you, and if they do have the copy of the Trespass order, you can be arrested for a Felony criminal offense.

So, yeah, some stores may figure it's just an unavoidable cost of business, but others are really ramping it up to discourage it. It may be better to err on the side of caution, so some will still get away with it, but it's still being addressed.
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  #42  
Old 04-09-2011, 12:32 AM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Xenos View Post
Some items just aren't expensive enough to warrant criminal prosecution, but that doesn't mean the shoplifter gets away with it. There's still civil fines, which can be calculated involving the amount of the AP's time at his rate of pay (including annual benefits broken down to an hourly rate), along with other store resources. A lousy $10 theft can cost as much as $250, which the shoplifter would then have to take to court to contest. The cost of a lawyer, alone, would wipe out any success.
In my state, the civil fine can be up to $650 over the price of the stolen items.
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  #43  
Old 04-09-2011, 06:23 AM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
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Kroger did an undercover investigation of one of their unprofitable stores and discovered that their employees were not only not trying to stop shoplifters, but they were aiding them. One cashier must have broadcast what night she was working to her friends, because the investigators watched as she allowed a dozen people to wheel right by her with carts full of stolen food. They'd wave or stop and chat for a bit and off they'd go!
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  #44  
Old 04-09-2011, 07:26 AM
AK84 AK84 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winnipeg View Post
In the UK you cant be accused of shoplifting unless you have actually left the shop with the unpaid for goods. While you are still in the shop/store you have not actually stolen the item, even if you have secreted it about your person.
I cannot say anything about Scotland or Northern Ireland, but that it absolutely incorrect in England and Wales.
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