Shoplifter: You Got Schooled

This day, we had three groups of shoplifters. One group stopped outside as I stared at them, and a coworker who was leaving even came in to tell me, and I told her I alerted the whole store already–they did not come in, but I did watch them dump tags into the trash outside. The second group didn’t see me, and turned around, finding me standing there. I partake in small conversation with them, then they speak in Portuguese, laugh, and leave. I was both glad and irritated I was working, because no one else was around, and even when I asked for support–I got none, people didn’t hear me, or people came when it was already over. I wonder if it’s free season to steal when I’m not working.

Finally, the group from my Exam arrived. I instantly recognized the woman, saying I needed support in the front because we have a tag-team in the store. I go on to describe what she’s wearing as I approach her. Then I see the other man–they are heading to the same corner as last week. I’m already irritated with shoplifters and disappointed with my coworker’s apparent lack of care that when these people do steal, they steal from our work hours. Today, I’m not here to pretend I’m talking to fake customers, nor am I interested in them trying to pretend they don’t speak English. I take them on face-to-face.

“Oh, hello again. You’re in the same corner as last time. The denim shorts you were looking at last Tuesday are on sale now. You should check them out again.”
“Wow, you remember us? You’re good!” The man looks at me and laughs.
“Yes, I have an IQ of 150.”
“Really? I have an IQ of 285.”
My face is blank as I reply, “It doesn’t go that high. But I do have a photographic memory, so I remember you quite well.”
He changes the subject discussing a tank top hanging nearby. I can see sweat on his forehead. I tell him it’s not popular, so no one is buying it, because they can’t figure out what to wear it with. Then our conversation ends, as he and his cohort walk out and leave.

I actually can’t handle too many shoplifters in one day, because my heartbeat instantly rises, my gut turns and my adrenaline pumps; I’m like a lion seeing a pack of jackals in my territory. My body automatically tenses up and I hide nearby, ready to pounce. Three groups of shoplifters made my body feel very tired, since I only got to feast on one group. Sometimes my body knows there are shoplifters even before I know.

I wonder if the Exam shoplifters will come again or if they already came when I wasn’t working. I hope I was able to make them disinterested in coming into my store again to face me. Each time they successfully steal, they get bolder thinking they can do it again. Scaring them away before they come in, like some of my coworkers, is also useless, because it doesn’t directly deter them. What I do confronting them, discussing with them what we both know they are doing, without accusing them of anything, that is what works. If you can’t scare them or make them sweat, then you’re just delaying their inevitability–to walk in and steal when no one is around. They do have time on their hands. I rather they be afraid I’m going to appear out of thin air, and devour them.

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