"I worked at Fry's Electronics, in Woodland Hills, California.
This dude comes in and meanders his way over to the large appliances area and bumps into the emergency exit, setting off the alarm.
Now Fry's, at the time, employed active loss prevention agents. Most retailers won't apprehend a shoplifter, but Fry's will tackle their butt to the ground. When this guy set off the alarm, all of the LP agents came running, thinking someone just ran off with a laptop or something. Turns out, this guy had timed the LP agents' response time.
The next day, the same guy comes in and sets off the same alarm.
At that same moment, four guys who had meandered their way over to the TV section and into the back stock area ran out the front door with a 50-inch plasma screen in a box and into a van.
This was when plasma TVs first hit the scene. The TV they took was priced at around $10,000."
"A few weeks back, in Oakland, there was an amber alert for a man who had stolen a car and kidnapped a man and woman.
Apparently, everything was blown out of proportion. A man had actually been trying to steal steaks. As he was making his way to the door, the manager approached him and asked if he was planning on paying for the steaks. The guy looked at the manager and seriously asked: 'What steaks?' The manager replied; 'The ones you are holding.' The thief froze for a second before bolting out the door and hopped in the first car he saw.
The passengers have no idea what is going on, while the thief yells at them: 'Drive! Drive! Drive!' The manager had followed the thief outside and witnessed him jump in the car. He asked if they would like them to call the police and the woman replied yes. Police show up and then an amber alert is being issued for the car and the passengers. Then it's on the news that a man and a young girl were kidnapped in front of the store. Someone leaked information, and it became a game of telephone. A bunch of state resources wasted over some stolen steaks."
"I used to work at a Verizon inside of a mall.
One day, our neighboring store, which was about a quarter mile from our store, called us up to let us know that someone took off with one of their display phones without the back and to be on the lookout. As I was hanging up the phone, a person walked up with a phone that he 'bought' recently and it didn't come with a back piece. It was the same phone as what the other store described and the serial numbers matched perfectly. I sincerely apologized to the person saying this doesn't happen and they can look around at some other phones as we contact our 'supervisor' so we can give them any phone for free.
We promptly called the police and the other location, to let them know we have their phone. The police came to the mall, the guy saw them, and started sprinting towards the opposite exit only to get body slammed by the other police officer that was coming through that entrance."
"I used to work at Target.
I once saw someone steal a TV on the surveillance recap.
This lady walks into the store and grabs a cart. At my Target, the electronics department was the first stop on your left. So she made her way around, looking at things. Seemingly normal. She grabs one of the TVs we have on sale from the endcap and places it in her cart. Now, all targets have two entrances on opposite sides of the store. She makes a full lap around the store, looking at things, acting completely normal.
As soon as she gets near the other entrance/exit, she pulls out her phone, appearing to answer a call. A few seconds later, she picks up the TV from the cart and bolts for the doors. In perfect synchronization, a van pulls up to the exit, the side door opens and she, TV and all, dives right in. The van drives off. No chance of stopping them."
"I used to work at a Polo Ralph Lauren outlet.
A really popular method of shoplifting from Polo involved a group of people stuffing the totes with hundreds dollars worth of merchandise. Then they would take off through the doors into a getaway car that was parked right outside. Usually, people would do this during really busy times when there are so many customers, you don't really notice if a few are just stuffing their bags without looking at prices or sizes.
On a particularly slow night, I was working alone with a manager and a supervisor, and both of them spent the majority of the night in the office. I only had two customers in the store and the way they kept looking at me and trying to stay hidden in corners, gave rise to my suspicion.
I noticed a car pull right up to the door and I immediately knew what was going to happen. I radioed the manager and supervisor and neither of them answered me. So I let the couple think they had fooled the only dumb little high school girl working and called security when they were near the back of the store. Then I locked both of the glass doors that were the only exit. I watched happily as the couple sprinted full speed toward the doors and slammed against them, just as security and the police pulled into the parking lot. They were both so stunned they didn't move an inch until the police unlocked the door from the outside, entered, and arrested them both. I ended up being reprimanded for doing something so dangerous, but it was worth it."
"I used to work for Office Max. One week we had a notice of a group of men that have been pulling heists at nearby Office Max stores for printer ink.
What they would do is have enough guys to distract every employee and ask for help. Two other guys would grab a container or a trash can, and then fill the containers with the ink and buy them.
They were described to us by other stores as large Eastern European men. One of the guys that would distract you with the help of purchasing a printer had a scar on his face.
When they came to our store, we had police in plain clothes waiting outside in the parking lot. They entered, and I approached them in the ink aisle. I can tell it was them because they did look as if they were apart of some European criminal organization. I asked if he needed assistance, he responded in the deepest and thickest European accent I've ever heard: 'No!' I was pretty frightened I have to admit.
Within the span of about two minutes, they all exited the store after we wouldn't stop following them around. We tipped off the officer that they had attempted the heist. All of a sudden, we see their old school Chevy Impala race in front of our store with the police officer not too far behind.
They told us that the chase lasted about a minute and they recovered about $20,000 worth of ink in the trunk of the car."
"I worked for a Japanese restaurant that had a small store in the front, selling prepackaged sushi.
The refrigerated sushi cases had one-way mirrored doors at the back so the sushi chefs could see through the glass, and replenish the cases directly from the kitchen.
A guy comes in and just starts stuffing his coat and bag with sushi, while all of the staff are just watching him through the one-way mirrors. They send out the Samoan chef, a big guy of about six foot five inches, 300 lbs, to offer him wasabi and soy sauce to go along with the stolen sushi. The thief is shaking and denying the theft. We then open the mirrored doors smile and wave at him. Busted."
"I worked at a Best Buy with mp3 players.
This kid comes in as I am putting out the new iPods, and his friends ask me for something. I turn back to the iPod and see it is now gone. I go tell Loss Prevention, and we find the kid and his friends. They walk over to the game section and act like they are playing the Xbox 360, but from where they are, you can see the kid putting a ton of stuff in his backpack.
When we confront the kid, he has about $3,000 worth of merchandise. His friend uses his mom's credit card to get them out of trouble.
Next day, the mom comes in and returns everything and all three of the kids go to jail."
"In high school, I worked at a Payless shoe store. We had people chew the anti-theft devices off of the shoes. We would find them, all full of teeth marks, in an empty shoebox.
But the best story involves a woman who I noticed had jewelry hanging out of her pockets. I knew she was stealing, and she knew she was stealing, but I could not accuse her, so I just said, 'Ma'am, I can hold that jewelry in your pocket if you want.' To which she replied: 'Oh, I made this jewelry. It's mine!'
And so I explained: 'I see our tag on it,' and she just said: 'Yeah, I made the jewelry and the tag, I was going to see if y'all want to buy it, but now I want nothing to do with you.' And she walked out of the store. I had already been told to never cause a scene and just let them go. So she just got away with it."
"I work at a bookstore, and for some reason, 70 percent of my shoplifting stories are just absolutely ridiculous.
A fairly recent one happened when I noticed a 20-something guy, super skinny, black jacket and beanie, conceal some graphic novels in a plastic bag he brought in. I approach him and offer to bring the books up to the registers where he can pay for them when he is ready. He begrudgingly hands me the books and follows me to the registers, becoming increasingly agitated as he starts muttering to himself.
I call my store manager over so I'm not the only one dealing with the guy because I get the feeling this isn't going to go too smoothly. We go up to the registers and my boss rings up the books, all while the guy starts yelling at us about how we are making him feel like a thief, and that he's the 'high priest' and how dare we accuse him of stealing. When my boss tells him the total, the guy says he has to go out to his car and get the money. Now at this point, this guy is clearly super angry, going back and forth between yelling at us and muttering to himself.
He walks back in and has his hand inside his jacket, with a crazed look on his face. Immediately, I think the dude has a weapon or something, but instead he pulls out a giant quartz crystal and starts waving it at us, telling us we will burn for all of eternity, and that our souls shall suffer the pain of a thousand burning suns. At this point, my boss tells me to call the cops, and the guy screams 'SCREW YOU! You will ALL burn!' and runs out of the store.
The best part is the cops showed up later and recognized the guy, and I guess they went to his house. A few hours later, the guy's wife called and asked if we could testify on her behalf in their current child custody case."
"I worked at an electronics store, and it was not in the best part of town, so it was not uncommon to deal with shoplifters. Some were frequent that you could never 'fully' prove, but it was pretty obvious, so you got to know them pretty well.
There was one team of two that I will never forget. It was a mother and her son. The mother was quite a bit older and rolled around in a wheelchair, which was her main theft accessory. Usually, she would slip something under herself and sit on it on her way out.
Her son would generally be the guy that tries to distract the people in the department by having them look for difficult-to-find or non-existent items he was 'interested' in purchasing. He was an interesting fellow.
He was definitely a junkie and not quite all there mentally. I'm not sure if that part was because of the illegal substances or if there was another part of that story, but I never found out.
Anyway, the important thing to know is that he was on a lot of medication, and it sometimes made interacting with him difficult. The other important thing to know is that this guy was built. He was tall and overly muscular. So, no one was really ever excited about any potential confrontations with him.
He came in one day with his mother and was clearly off his rocker. I'm not sure if he was off his medication, or had taken too much, but he was definitely not anything someone would consider normal. The normal game plan was out the window, and the dude left his mom out to dry as he got distracted by whatever was on the TVs. Mom got caught trying to sit on some DVDs and was told she would not be allowed to leave as the police were on the way.
Anyway, her son figures out the jig is up and loses his cool. He is screaming up and down the main walkway freaking out that his mom is about to go to jail. He is literally spitting and shouting every obscenity he can think of, and then repeating them all louder.
Luckily, it did not take the police long to show up, but as soon as they walked in the door, they called for backup. They were trying to talk the guy down, but he wanted none of it. Eventually, he is surrounded by four police officers, all with tasers pointed at him, letting him know if he doesn't calm down, he will be zapped. Surprisingly enough, the big guy doesn't approve of the police methods and takes a big step towards one of them. The officer immediately pulls out a weapon and zaps the dude.
Everyone is expecting that to be that, but this guy is way too entertaining for things to end this way. He looks down at the stunners in his chest, looks up at the officer, back down at the stunners, up again, and then screams, 'IS THAT ALL YOU GOT?'
It took less than a second for the other three officers to fire their stun guns and finally drop him. But it was the longest, scariest second of my life. I was pretty sure everyone in the surrounding area was about to die.
All of this happened in the middle of the day, right in the middle of the store. It was crazy and awesome and frightening all at the same time. The dude and his mom were carted off to jail and told if they ever returned, they would be charged with trespassing. I never saw them again, but will never forget the events that took place that day."
"I worked in the perfume section of a drugstore at one point. A wealthy middle-aged white woman, with a full shopping cart, got hungry in our store. She had a six-pack of Hershey bars and asked me if it was okay if she ate one since she was going to pay for the whole thing anyway. I didn't see a problem with it since I was at my register and she was getting ready to check out.
Well, a Loss Prevention officer sees her eating, comes out and tells her she needs to stop or he's going to throw her out of the store. This is clearly a woman of class and substance, and she's obviously very offended by the guy denying her the Hershey bar. I offer to check her out for the Hershey bars so she can pay for them right away; LP overrides my offer and gets aggressive.
Come to find out, her family owns one of the largest liquor store chains in our city. She called our head office to complain about how LP accused her of being a shoplifter and he was dismissed.
I went to a TJ Maxx style store, and I noticed LP following me around the store. I started to get nervous that he thought I was stealing something and got a little cagey. I went around to several areas of the store to make sure he was following me. He found me in Ladies Dresses, where he proceeded to hit on me.
I've told this story before. One guy tried to shoplift a candy bar at my register by trying to slide the candy bar into his pants pocket. I saw him doing it, waggled my finger at him, and told him: 'Put it back' in my best mom voice. He tried to justify it, but in the end, he put it back."
"I used to be a barista at a Coffee Bean. A woman comes up, and I take her order. In front of the register is a display of small packaged cookies and pastries. She asks for a coffee which I turn to prepare.
Well, I forgot to grab a lid, so I turn back around towards the register and see her quickly shove a butter madeleine in her mouth. I stare at her, and she stares at me. Then she starts chewing. Slowly. I ring up her coffee plus the package of cookies she helped herself too. She pays without saying anything but walks off head hanging."
"I worked at a CVS in West Philly. We had this awesome guy who worked in the pharmacy and was training to be a pharmacy tech. He was really nice and pretty quiet, but he looked tough and had definitely been a 'gangster' at some point.
One day, an old guy comes into the store and tries to walk out with two huge bottles of laundry detergent. We all see him go, and someone says something, but he keeps walking toward the door.
All of a sudden, my friend in the pharmacy lunges over the pharmacy counter and chases down the old shoplifter. He jumps between him and the door and tells the stealer to stop. The old guy tells the pharmacy tech to screw off, and the pharmacy tech unloads.
'YOU A WITCH! YOU A WITCH!' the pharmacy tech yells. Mind you, this is in the middle of the day. The place is busy and he isn't quiet.
Needless to say, the old guy dropped the detergent and left."
"I used to work at Aeropostale in northern Kentucky. We once had this white trash couple come in and just load up a bag with stuff before walking out. They got away with it the first time because the company would rather let the shoplifter walk out than run the risk of getting sued for letting their employees accuse customers of stealing. The second time they came, our regional Loss Prevention director was doing a store visit.
The girl brought a blatantly empty bag into the store. It was flat to her side when she came in. She started picking out what she was going to steal and stashing it on shelves near the front of the store. Meanwhile, her gigantic boyfriend engaged in clearly useless conversation with me, to distract my attention. They weren't making a great effort at covering up what they were doing and we found out why later.
I stood at the front door and just stared right at her while he talked to me, and she continued to hide clothes, in plain sight of me, knowing I was watching her. Eventually, the boyfriend moved away and went to talk to her.
A few minutes later, he calls someone on his phone. LP director just tells me to keep watching them and follow her around if she tries to move out of my sight. She's the one with the bag, so he's not going to steal anything. She is getting very frustrated at this point.
Then a third dude comes in. Now I have two guys trying to distract me. She loads up her bag and strolls toward the entrance. It was empty when she came in, now the clothes are practically spilling out the top. The LP director says in my ear (through the radio) to just let her go and make no attempt to stop her. She leaves, the two dudes immediately shut up and follow her. The LP director chases her out into the mall. I don't know what happens after that until a little bit later.
I had stayed late at this point, and my boss told me I could leave since they were out of the store. As I'm merging onto the highway, I see them pulled over, and she's being taken out of the car. I call the store to find out what happened. The LP director followed them and yelled at them to stop. They dropped the bags and ran, but my boss had already called the police and alerted them that they were in the store. So they almost made it to the highway, but not quite. They'd also had illegal substances on them, and it later turned out they were on probation. Not very smart people, as you can tell. I'd think being on probation, I wouldn't be stupid enough to brazenly commit a felony offense in front of witnesses, while loaded with illegal substances.
They went to jail for a few days, and last I heard of them, they'd skipped a hearing and had warrants out for their arrest. I'm sure they're up to their same old tricks if not in jail already."
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