Did you witness shoplifting?

All of that is probably true. But the word used was “illegal” if I remember correctly. They could refuse service, ask her to leave. But prosecute? Unlikely.

One time I was just as my wife and I were getting into our car after shopping at Kmart into Kmart when I saw a large man walk out of the entrance (not through the designated Exit that went past the cash registers) past an elderly greeter carrying a large boxed flat screen TV. The alarm sensor went off but he didn’t break stride. He put it into the back of a SUV that was waiting by the entrance which immediately drove off. I tried to get the license plate but it had temporary dealer tags that I couldn’t from the distance. We didn’t bother to tell the store because the greeter undoubtedly saw them leave and we didn’t have anything else useful to add.

More times than I can count. I work at Lowes, as someone mentioned above, our policy is to not interfere or try to apprehend or stop shoplifters, for our own safety.( although we do prosecute if we get enough evidence).

Power tools are a big theft item. Shoplifters put one under each arm and just walk out. We attempt to get a description and license plate number if we can, and report it to store security. If we see someone walking around with a cart full of power tools we usually put an alert out and station the most intimidating employees we have on duty by each exit (I was usually one of them). Still couldn’t intervene, but not everyone knew that and most were a little hesitant to walk right past an employee who’s looking right at them, preferring to slip out when no one is watching.

Another big theft item is copper electrical wire. People will come in and fill a cart (10-12 rolls, amounting to $2000 retail value in some cases). These people are less smart, as someone loading up that much wire is always stealing and gets your attention, so they get followed. No one actually buys that much wire at one time, not even the professional electricians.

I’ve seen the tag switch thing too. Once when I was working the self checkout, a man came up with a large item ( a fiberglass shed/ storage box). The guy walked straight up, grabbed the scanner and scanned a sticker on the box. The thing that made me suspicious is that he knew exactly where to scan…most people need to search a little to find the barcode. I can see on my monitor what they ring up, at the item that was supposed to be $300 rang up for about $65. I immediately walked over and said " I’m sorry, someone must have put this sticker on the box, the correct barcode is this one" he tried to argue that he already paid, and that we had to give it him for that price because of our stores price guarantee policy ( not true in the case of you switching the barcodes, dickface). I told him he would have to pay the correct price. He left in a huff and went over to customer service to get a refund for the $65 he did pay.
Whenever we recover merchandise in this way, it’s called a RWD ( recovery without detention) . We fill out a report for the asset protection dept and go about our business.

I may have witnessed it as a bystander a couple of times, but currently only one example comes to mind. I was about 9 years old, so circa 1988-9, at Yorkdale Mall (Toronto). I suddenly saw a tall young man run down the hall past me and whatever family members were with me as fast as his legs could carry him. He may have stolen something. (At 6, I had also seen a cop fighting two guys at the same mall and a security guard rushing to the cop’s aid).

At a certain age, though, I was the one committing the act. This is not something of which I am proud. My first caper occurred when I was about 5, in the Kresge discount store that used to be in the same mall as mentioned above. I was there with my grandmother and wandered away from her. I got to the bulk dry goods section and pinched a chocolate kiss or similar sweet. I presumably put it directly in my mouth, destroying the evidence, and went to look for more. I ran into a shop assistant, who gave me a friendly smile. I turned around, and went to look for my grandmother.

I had a period when I was most active at shoplifting and stealing from other kids, between the age of 9 and 11. On at least one occasion, I did this together with Mike K., a friend from school. We were at the local corner store and Mike grabbed a handful of sticker packets for a sticker album from the candy wall, right under the owner’s/clerk’s nose. I don’t remember if he pocketed them or if he gave them to me to pocket. IIRC I bought the actual album (or already had it at home) and we sort of kept it jointly.

I grew out of it at 12. Like I said, it’s not something I’m proud of. One little story from the tail end of my bad habit: a boy brought a model rocket to school. I couldn’t steal the whole thing, so I just pinched the nose cone, I guess as a sort of trophy. During the next school year, now I can’t for the life of me understand why, I brought the nose cone to school. The same boy saw me handling it, and angrily grabbed it back.

Oh, I forgot about one other incident, because it’s technically not shoplifting, but I think it’s relevant.

Again, this was while working at Toys R Us. I think it was my second Christmas (I went through three of them and those were always nightmares) and during the holidays our store would always at least double in number of employees with a bunch of temporary staff. A few would get hired on to be permanent but most didn’t. So every year you’d get a ton of new coworkers that would be gone around mid January. (They still needed extra staff to handle the HUGE number of returns right after Christmas, it happened every year. Basically the first couple of weeks in January we had to reconfigure the customer service area with special lines to accommodate the load.)

Anyway, that’s the backstory. As I said I mostly worked in the back part of the store, my area was where we had a lot of the big ticket items (swing sets, bikes, strollers, anything too big for a small shelf) and one day around Christmas while sorting some boxes I found a huge stash of video games (at least a dozen). Needless to say, the proper place to store video games is not tucked behind the Little Tykes Wave Slide boxes up on the mezzanine; they were kept carefully locked up in a special area. I immediately contacted a manager, who started swearing up a storm, and within a day or two we had loss prevention people at the store who had traveled from the local regional HQ. They asked me some simple questions; when did I find them, how, and so on.

Not long after one of the temporary employees who worked as a “Ticket Writer” (the people who created the tickets that you would grab for big items like bikes and small high-risk items like video games and consoles) was fired for it. They were the only people who had access to the secure area where the games were stored (aside from managers) so that wasn’t a surprise.

If I remember, the guy’s name was Fred and he looked exactly like Cousin Oliver from the Brady Bunch; same glasses and haircut, except around 20 years old.

Hope it was worth it Fred.

I was standing in line at Blockbuster (which tells you that this wasn’t last week) when a teenager went racing past me and out the door, a few video games in his clutches.

The clerk was pissed and muttered that he was not allowed to chase after him.


He was sweatin’.

I worked in the kids clothing department at Walmart and was handed a ratty pair of toddler jeans that had been neatly hung on a hanger by the shoplifter. I wasn’t mad though because I think the kid really needed the pants he’d apparently left in.

I was working at a trade show! One of the dealers was being shown our really cool product, a small meter, and he slipped it into his pocket! It wasn’t my dealer but typically these guys would do anywhere from 10s of thousands to millions of dollars per year in business.

I went and told the VP of sales, but what can you really do ?

I never see people shoplift food, even when I see them shoplift food. You’re hungry enough to steal food, steal away. Have at it.

Don’t see it other times. I tend to be lost in my head half the time anyway and don’t worry about, or even look to see, what others are doing.

Yeah, when i pre-order food at Panera’s, they just leave the bag of food with my name on it in an accessible area. And i wondered about security. Then I realized that if you steal a bag of someone else’s food, you are getting some random order that isn’t too your liking, and you are probably hungry. I assume that if the customer then shows up and asks where’s their food, they just apologize and make a new order. And that some leakage is built into the price.

I do wonder if they have any issues with repeat-surfers, and if they did anything about it.

Years ago at work a woman who we all knew (she was a known pain in the ass) was purchasing an eight dollar item. She went through her purse looking for cash/credit card, but couldn’t find what she was looking for. She became frantic, then just picked up the item and ran to her car.

When what happened was related to me, I called the police. There’s no local police force, so Pennsylvania State Police responded. When we told him the woman’s name, he laughed; apparently she had several drug arrests and was well known. He pulled up her driver’s license photo in his car and showed us for a positive ID.

I insisted on charging the woman. A few months later I closed my business for a day to participate in her trial. Her defense was that she didn’t do it. She cleaned up nice for court and showed up totally sober. When the magistrate found her guilty, she freaked out, screaming that we were fucking liars and she’d kill us.

To date she hasn’t followed through on her threat.

I’ll bet it happens by accident more often than it does someone stealing it on purpose. However, the “trick” is to work in pairs. So, I order food that I know you and I both like. When they put it on the counter with my name, you grab it. Then I wait a few more minutes, go back up to the counter and ask about my order. Everyone is confused, apologize, remake my food and I take that. Double the food for the same price. At my work, that happens every once in a while. 99% of the time it just means the first customer was still collecting their stuff as we were ringing up the next person and they accidentally grabbed one of the next person’s bags. However, once or twice, the thing they “accidentally” grabbed, was something really expensive, like a $100 worth of seafood. In those cases, checking the camera footage often casts doubt on how accidental it actually was.

It’s similar to the $100 bill scam. That’s where I take a $100 bill, write something on it and then buy something with it. A little while later, you go through the line, pay for something with a $10 bill and then complain that you paid with a hundred and got change for a 10. You “prove” it by telling the cashier/manager what was written on the back. They find the bill, confirm what’s written on it and hand you an extra $90. If it goes to plan. If it doesn’t, you’re going to get chased out of the store.*

A long, long time ago. We had a lady shove a bunch of lobster tails in her purse. I saw it happening so I had police waiting in the parking lot. I walked out behind her, pointed her out to the cops, she through a huge fucking temper tantrum that most of us found amusing since she was blaming me (and I was like 16 at the time) as she was in hand cuffs and the cops were pulling lobster tails out from under the seat of her car. IIRC, she was also claiming they were from somewhere else, even though they had our store’s stickers on them.

In any case, she was so riled up, the cops took her back to the police station and then came back to get my statement. I asked the cops what she meant when she kept saying “I offered to pay”. Turns out she asked if she could write a check (she did ask me that, and she did write a check) but the check was declined so she…I don’t know…decided that she gets the stuff for free, I guess?

Also, when the police got my statement and asked for my address, the cop said ‘she’s uhh, well, you don’t want her knowing where you live, I’ll use your work address’, and since then I always ask the cops to use the work address as my home address just to make me a hair harder to track down’.

*I’m getting off track here, but this reminds me of another one. Long story shorter, a guy said he exchanged a tank of propane but was charged the full price for buying a new tank without an exchange. I asked for his receipt and he said it was at his house. No problem, grab your receipt, I’ll refund the money. I didn’t suggest or imply that I didn’t believe him, I just wasn’t going to blindly hand him 30 bucks. He said he’d be right back. A week later, he showed back up, gave me the exact same story with just a few small details differing from what he said last time. Honestly…I don’t think he remembered that he had already been here a week earlier. I again asked for the receipt, he left to go get it. Another full week later, he shows back up. Same-ish story again. But this time he said he can prove it. He said he can show me which tank it was. Interested, I followed him out to the propane cage. He pointed to the tank that had a note on it reading ‘bad valve’, claiming he wrote that note. I said ‘well, I wrote that note, I personally know the person that returned that tank and if you had a tank with a bad valve, you have gotten a replacement tank for free’. I told him I knew he was lying and offered to call the police and let them sort it out. Never saw him again after that.

My daughter worked at a place that did this last summer (not Panera but similar price point). There was one instance where a woman came in screaming that her order was completely wrong. And of course her order was still sitting there in the pick up area. She had walked in grabbed the bag sitting there, which was someone else’s. Her food hadn’t been put out yet.

Ironically (unsurprisingly?) the woman who grabbed the wrong order was unapologetic and refused to admit any mistake on her part, while the poor guy whose order she took, and who had to wait 15-20 minutes for his order to be re-done was most polite and understanding.

Another couple of instances come to mind. When I was five or six at the grocery store with my mother, I REALLY wanted those Tic-Tacs at the register. Mom refused, and I just slipped them into my pocket. Later that day she caught me enjoying them and brought me and the Tic-Tacs back to the store, where she had me return the item and apologize to the manager. I was so mortified by that experience I never could steal again.

Several years ago I got a sandwich and drink at a grocery store, walked upstairs to their indoor seating area and enjoyed lunch. As I finished the sandwich I realized that I had not paid, so as I was leaving brought the sandwich sticker and empty drink to the checkout to pay. The cashier was understanding and grateful for the honesty.

Most likely rabbit fur, a fad in the late 1970s.

rabbit fur was my guess. I have zero knowledge of how fur coats are made or what the various price points were or are. They couldn’t have been too pricey.

Did she face additional charges for threatening to kill you?

Yep the younger brother of a classmate of mine. We’d go to the local store after school to get candy and whatever, and he’d load his backpack with loads of stolen goods. Totally wrong and I have no idea where he got it from. I knew his older brother and both parents, all nice folks. The store must have noticed the ‘inventory adjustment’ that occurred around the time we visited and enacted a policy of making kids bare their tummies before leaving. They’d make us lift our shirts to show we hadn’t put candy in our waistbands. I’d completely forgotten about that.

ETA: Shoot, forgot the best part. The store was later busted for selling counterfeit purses out the back door.

Nope. The State Cop who was there to testify told her to back off, then he escorted us out.