Yesterday I wrote about being in the middle of a Baby Daddy Fight while working retail in college. I was an Assistant Manager for Express in officially the worst mall at the time. Fights and the occasional gun shot were not uncommon. Below are my favorite memories and why it should be law that everyone serve time in the retail and restaurant industry.
A Shoplifter For All Seasons
The Returning Shoplifter
This shoplifter was the most comical to me. Do I have stupid written on my forehead? Is what I wanted to ask them.
The Returner would normally be a woman the size of Michael Moore, returning garments ranging in size from 1 to 12. Occasionally they would try, and say something like, “My grandma got me these clothes for my birthday. They don’t fit.”
“Is your grandma blind?” I would ask.
I could get away with this sort of question as there was always an unwritten rule between the shoplifter and the sales associate. We were taught that we could NEVER accuse anyone of stealing despite how obvious it was. Companies figure the cost of a pair of skinny jeans is a bargain compared to the cost of a lawsuit.
5 minutes later I would return $500 worth of clothing and the shoplifter makes out with a $500 gift card to do whatever they wanted to with.
The Antagonistic Shoplifter
I’m not going to lie, I was always a little scared of the antagonistic shoplifter as she would dare us to say something. We always had this lady come in and just pick up stacks of shirts and bolt. She wasn’t concerned there were security cameras or that this was illegal, she just took the stacks and ran. Though she looked 40 (thanks to the meth) she was probably closer to 19. We will call her Skeletor because well, that is who she looked like and that is what we called her.
Skeletor would come in and we would start the usual process of offering assistance.
“Hello, welcome to Express. Are you looking for anything special?”
A pipe perhaps?
“I’m just lookin’.” She would say, not making eye contact. No eye contact is a huge characteristic of shoplifters.
Skeletor’s usual mode of taunting/distracting us is she would knock stacks of sweaters onto the floor from display tables. Her next move was to go over to the jean wall and pull out chunks of jeans. I watched in horror as jeans unfolded and fell to the ground, one leg at a time. Does she have any idea how long that wall took? And as I mentioned above, she would take the clothes and leave as we were cleaning up the mess she had left for us.
The Bitchy Shoplifter
This shoplifter didn’t exactly steal clothes and would buy them honestly like everyone else. She would then proceed to keep them for 2 years, show up and expect a full refund. If we didn’t refund the money, they would become hostile and raise their voice. Out of all the bitchy shoplifters I dealt with, I had to have 2 removed by the mall cop.
Another stellar move is they would buy a $200 dress, remove the tags, wear it to a party, have something spill on it and expect to return it. The dress smelled like Courtney Love’s pillowcase. But we normally returned it which pissed me off to no end.
The Shoplifting Sensor Master
These people pissed me off to no end. Somehow they managed to remove the sensors and I don’t know how they did it. Normally what would happen is they would sneak into 1 of 2 fitting room bays with an undisclosed amount of clothing. They would remove the sensors and load the now loose parts into either the pocket of jeans or a coat they brought into the fitting room. We wouldn’t know about the sensors till an innocent shopper purchased the jeans or coat, crossed the alarm thresh hold and they began to beep. After checking the outside of the garments, our next move would be to check pockets. This was awesome as we would end up stabbing our fingers with the sharp points or they would go under our fingernails. Owe!! I learned the hard way to do this a little slower.
The Cold Shoplifter
Unless you’re 70+, don’t walk into my store with a puffer jacket on in the middle of July and claim, “I’m cold”. This is the oldest, and dumbest, trick in the book. I’m not even going to elaborate on this shoplifter as they are too stupid to warrant a paragraph.
Oh man! Ok, I’ve shared my experience with shoplifters and I could go for 10 more posts but I’ll stop now. So lemme hear it! What is your experience? Are they as ridiculous as mine?
I’ve never had to deal with shoplifters personally. One time, while in university, I was working at a grocery store as the cash assistant manager and was doing something at the front end when all the grocery guys plus the owner came RUNNING out of the store after some guy. Mr super cute who all the teens loved tripped the culprit just as the mall security came rushing over as well. It was very entertaining.
We did had a theft issue with an employee once though. She was 16 and over the course of a few shifts stole $500!!! Like she knows that we count the till before she goes on, and after her shift, and at the end of the day and the start of the next day, why did she think she could get away with it? Standard policy meant putting her on the one till under a security camera and every. single. time. she left her till for a break I had to re-count it with another manager present. Which SUCKED since I would have to slow down my counting so the manager could watch me count. She eventually was fired once we had concrete proof of her stupidity.
There are smart thieves and dumb thieves. She was clearly a dumb thief. What kind of upbringing do you have if you are only 16 and steal $500?
not a very good one. she had a very angry mom from the times that I met the mother, and then she left home a few times and the like.
I never caught anyone in the act of stealing at my retail gig, but I did have an elderly Asian couple come in regularly and every. single. time. would take a sales tag off one item and put it on another and try and get away with it. But they weren’t smart about it. They would take a tag off of a $20 candle and put it on a $200 piece of art work. Then, when we told them that we couldn’t honor the price, they would start bickering with us and walk out. Makes you wonder how many times they get away with that crap at other stores…
They probably get away with it when the sales associates don’t want to deal with them anymore. I’ve had those kind before.
We had someone walk in the front door, grab a LARGE tool (think table-saw type thing) and run out the door and escape ON A BICYCLE. yeah, she got caught….two blocks later. HAHAHAHA
On a bicycle? OMG! In what universe did she (and I find it funny it’s a she) think this would work? So stupid.