Did you witness shoplifting?

When I was 8, I saw a hamster running along the floor in the pet section of a W.T. Grants store. He obviously escaped from his cage, as hamsters are wont to do. I figured he didn’t want to go back in his cage with the other mean-looking hamsters, so I put him in my pocket and walked out.

I attribute the lasting emotional scars from that incident to leading me down a road of hard drinking and criminal activity…just kidding.

When I was 18, I put an item on the counter at a 7-11 to check out. The sales clerk looked at me, frowned, and said in a harsh tone, “Hey man, take that snack out of your pocket and pay for it!”

I figured he was joking (not a very funny joke, admittedly), so I just chuckled and said, “yeah, right.”

The clerk, a very large, muscular guy, proceeded to come around to where I stood, and yelled, “I’m gonna kick your ass!” He then grabbed my arm with one hand and thrust his other hand in my jacket pocket. He said sheepishly, “oh, man, I’m so sorry. I thought that was a bag of chips in your pocket.”

Turns out, the pocket flap of my jacket was inverted and the underlining looked just like a bag of Lay’s potato chips sticking out of my pocket. The clerk gave me a free Slurpee for scaring me.

From several years back:

Same here.

I’ve encountered a couple of those myself. First one was before I graduated high school; some guy who recognized me from school came running out of a shopping mall chased by security while I was headed in.

I was taking my lunch break at a deli with table service when the guy at the table across the aisle form mine got up and ran out. I suspected he was up to something and should have mentioned him to the waitress.

This was from a long time ago, back when I was in middle school, in the cafeteria. I remember the line to buy drinks was separate from the food line and so this one classmate/quasi-friend always offered to go to the drink line to buy my juice; I’d give him 25 cents, and he’s buy his and mine.

This seemed to work out until he got caught. Unbeknownst to me, he had a ruse whereby he’d buy my carton of juice, and swipe another for himself. Banned from the cafeteria he was.

A couple weeks ago I walked into the cough medicine aisle of a CVS to find a man taking multiple bottles and shoving them into a bag.

My first job was working stock at K-Mart. I was bringing in carts one night during the Xmas season. As I was coming in, two guys ran out, each with armloads of fur coats. They piled into a waiting car and peeled out. The police showed up but I don’t know if they ever caught the guys. Or why they were stealing fur coats from K-Mart, of all places.

K-Mart had fur coats?

When I worked for Safeway, we were not allowed to follow, confront or stop shoplifters. All we could do is alert the PIC if we had suspicions. If we did try to stop anyone, or follow them around, it was a fireable offense. There were only specific people who could do anything about it.

And honestly, if people are stealing food, I am not going to do anything. Nope, I didn’t see it.

That’s where I purchase all of my luxury items.

I worked at Toys R Us for 2 1/2 years (RIP you decrepit monolith) and only once did I catch actual shoplifting. (I mostly worked in the back stockrooms anyway.)

But the shoplifters I caught were a few kids, probably in their early teens, taking huge bags of candy and shoving the bags under their shirts. Even if I hadn’t watched them as they did it, it was obvious they were trying to steal as they held their massive, lumpy fake bellies. I just asked them, “Really kids?!” They realized they were caught and sheepishly put the candy back. That was it.

I also caught a woman trying to steal more creatively. Well, I didn’t “catch” her so much as thwart her. One of the managers came up to me when I was on register and warned me that a lady who is a known fraud artist (caught on camera) was going to try to buy some items that she had put the wrong price stickers on. (Basically you take a barcode/price sticker off a cheaper item and put it on a more expensive item then buy it.) She had done it at other stores in the area recently and they had a notice to all of the stores warning about her. He said not to make a scene or anything.

So she came through and had 3 kids and another adult with her (a sister or friend I guess). When you scan an item, the register tells you what it is, and I paid extra attention. A few of the items that I scanned predictably came up with the wrong item, and I just said “Huh, that’s weird,” and peeled off the sticker to show the real one. Then I scanned the real sticker. The whole time I played dumb, acting like the wrong stickers were the fault of the store, and at all times I was friendly and smiling as if unaware that she was trying to pull anything.

She was pissed off though. As soon as she saw that I was going to charge her the actual price she glared daggers at me. When she paid she growled at me like an animal and the whole time I just stayed generically pleasant. After she left the store my manager said he watched the whole exchange and what I did was perfect; no confrontation, proper customer service, but also didn’t let her get away with it.

I do not miss my days in retail at all.

I’m surprised they didn’t call the police. IIRC, changing prices is just as illegal as stealing/shoplifiting.
Also, I figured when you corrected the price she would change her mind about wanting the item.
That’s one thing that I’ve learned about a certain type of shoplifter. They’ll do it in a way that gives them plausible deniability. For example, an expensive item in the bottom of their shopping cart with their jacket tossed over it and the other items piled on top of it. If you don’t catch them, they walk out the door with it. If you say ‘sir, what about those lobster tails under your jacket in the cart’. They’ll say they didn’t realize how expensive they were and they don’t want them anymore or some other canned excuse.
I’ve seen that happen a number of times.

I suspect they didn’t want to be ripped off but also didn’t want the negative attention a confrontation would bring. I don’t know though, I never asked the manager about it. (I didn’t really care at the time either to be honest, I was just doing my job.)

I was expecting something along those lines too. And I even gave her the out for it; since I was pretending I didn’t know she had swapped the label, she could have insisted that she thought it was cheaper based on the label that was on it.

I suspect that she bought the items anyway because she wanted/needed the items enough to pay full price, she just didn’t want to pay full price. I’m just speculating though.

It just occurred to me that all of this happened around 25 years ago. Holy crap that’s a long time, that doesn’t even seem possible. :astonished:

You would have to know that she did it, and that she intended to defraud the store.

I know a lot of places don’t prosecute, I think that’s basically the reason. They’d rather deal with the loses internally than get the negative attention.

It’s also possible she returned them a day or two later and got her money back because she knew that changing her mind while you were ringing her up would be similar to admitting what she did.

They did know that she did it. That’s how they caught her so quickly. As for intent, I assume that’s meant to prevent someone getting into legal trouble for an accident. For example, if I go through the checkout line and forget to take something out of the cart or assume the cashier saw it. I think getting caught changing the prices would make for an uphill battle to convince anyone it was an accident. Even on the off chance that they did grab something off the shelf with the wrong sticker on it, having it happen with multiple items would make it seem like less and less of an accident.

Was leaving a Home Depot after my purchase, and saw a female employee asking a customer to see the recipt for what was an expensive miter box in his cart. He ignored her, and kept walking. She kept asking for him to stop. I was right behind the employee, and she knew I saw what was going on. I stuck with the employee, by her side.

I’m a big guy. I figured I could at least be a witness, or dissuade the thief from taking it to the next level. I saw and heard everything.

The thief abandoned the cart as soon as he got out side and ran.

The employee thanked me, shrugged and, well, I guess that’s not too uncommon.

That’s odd. I wonder if someone was supposed to be waiting for him and wasn’t there.

An acquaintance of mine used to work at Lowes. She said they were having a problem with people taking expensive power tools over to the (outdoor) garden area and leaving them in a specific spot that allowed them to grab them from outside through a opening in the gate/fence. They would then “return” them for store credit. Everyone knew what was going on, but there wasn’t really anything they could do about it since they (that location? that region? Lowes, in general?) didn’t prosecute shoplifters. Since the police were never called, they just kept doing it.

I suspect that he new the jig was up and ran. There was probably a truck or car waiting for him in the parking lot. This was a big box, he was just hoping to wheel in the cart to his accomplice, load it up and split.

I’m not arguing that she didn’t do it deliberately. My point is that you would have to prove it. For there to be legal punishment, you would have to prove it. And “but we all know she does it” isn’t going to prove it.

“Fur” coats.

True, yes. I assume an eye witness (or multiple eye witnesses) making statements to the police saying that they saw her peeling the stickers from one item and placing them on another would be sufficient. Video evidence would probably be rock solid. But I’m still working on the assumption that act of doing it implies the intent to defraud. Unlike, for example, simply walking out of the store without paying for something doesn’t necessarily require intent, as stated earlier, that can be an honest mistake.