Posts Tagged ‘steal’

Shoplifter: Too Good To Be A Shoplifter

June 10, 2010

There is one guy who always comes in, no one suspects him to be a shoplifter. He actually dresses nicely, is clean-cut, and acts politely–if you consider ‘ignoring salespeople who trying to help you’ as polite. Yet, he has many of the traits of a shoplifter.

He comes in with a large, empty shopping bag from other prominent retail stores–I walk by and glance inside just after he passes me. I also use mirrors to my advantage, never underestimate mirrors–shoplifters watch you and you can watch them. As much as he tries not to, he pays too much attention to the salespeople. Simple glances say too much, when glances usually mean you need help–as I said, he ignores people who try to help him; so obviously he isn’t looking to us for help. Then, he goes to corners where no one can see him, and stands there. He never shops out in the open. Everyone says he doesn’t look like a shoplifter, but once you know how they act–you know he acts like a shoplifter.

One day, I was watching him casually grabbing clothes making a pretty large stack. I usually look away as he turns toward me, because if you are a good shoplifter you don’t get caught watching salespeople–that’s a freebie for you shoplifters! If he ever caught me watching, he wouldn’t try to steal–and that’s half the fun, right? He casually places the clothes at the base of a mannequin, which no one notices. I even ask a coworker to get the clothes, and they walk right by it. Eventually, I point it out to her when he isn’t looking, and she grabs it, asking loudly, “Is this anyone’s clothes? Anyone? If it is, I’m putting it at the cash register for you on hold, okay?” He’s standing right there, walking in a circle around the mannequin, but he says nothing. He just puts down the clothes he’s holding, and casually walks out.

From that point on, I have never taken my eyes off of him. I am disappointed whenever he comes in wearing our clothes like a trophy, because I have never seen him buy anything, nor has anyone else in my store. Of course, I can’t work 24/7. He never, ever leaves with clothing when I’m at work. What worries me more is the fact I see him sitting with other guys at a coffee shop in the mall. Are they part of a shoplifter’s guild?

Shoplifter: You Can Just Close The Doors

June 7, 2010

I’m learning the code-words of my coworkers who don’t use the general terms. Normally I hear, “Do you need back-up?” which means, “Do you need help at the register?” Recently, I’ve heard, “Do you need help?” The first time I heard this, I ignored it, but later found out it was one coworker’s way of saying, “There are shoplifters!” Normally, we say something like, “Our friends are back!” Tonight, I heard the same statement, “Do you need help up there?” At first, I ignored it, then I realize this might be a signal.

I step out into the front, and there I see the two drag-queens and two coworkers standing there watching the shoplifters rifling through piles of clothes. I actually don’t know what’s going on, since my coworkers aren’t doing anything–I later found out they froze and didn’t know what to do. Plus, they said they haven’t been that close or seen how scary these drag-queens are. I’ve seen the big one dressed as a man, and trust me, the drag version is far less scary.

I came in whispering to one coworker, “Yay, this is going to be fun! I haven’t seen them in a while!” And I shout to the other coworker, “You know, you can just close the doors!”

The larger drag-queen stands up and looks at me, turning to the other one, “Let’s go!” They both get up and leave. I’m a little surprised I have that influence, since I know they were there a while already. I actually do have more enjoyment playing mind-games with the professionals. Games like “Peek-a-boo, I see you!” and “Hide-and-Go-Seek!” are so much fun. I actually want to throw a sensor in their bags when I pass by them for my amusement. And I cannot wait to cover my eyes and say, “Okay, go! I can’t see you!” Then open my eyes, “Oh, I can see you now!” while laughing like a madman.

Shoplifter Exam: What Doesn’t Belong?

June 5, 2010

Here is an exam to test your ability to spot shoplifters, by naming the multiple things these people did wrong:

I am standing at the front door greeting. I am very loud, and I also throw my voice–which is useful when I target ears. Haha. So I greet a couple that walks in, and I get no response–not even the look-away, where I’m purposely ignored (A). They stop and look at each other, speaking with eyes (B). The man and woman are very clean-looking, dressed slightly stylish (C). The man is wearing dark shades, and he lifts his hand to give her the bag he’s holding. She’s initially hesitant, but takes it (D). The bag is a large, huge, titanic surf-store bag which is very much empty; at best, it holds a few shirts (E). They continue to ignore me as I approach them and greet them again (F).

As the woman walks away, she passes someone who grazes the large surf-bag; she turns with a face full of anger, glaring at the other person (G). They go to the women’s department, and immediately find the first corner they can, between a table and a wall–there is little visibility here (H). I greet another customer, and continue to talk to this person as I pass from behind the couple to in front of them–they have already grabbed denim shorts and are holding it (I). I continue to speak, but there is actually no one else there–I’m talking to myself (J). My fake conversation takes me right next to the couple, as I point out clothes they are looking at; they have yet to acknowledge my presence (K). I also help a woman in that area, keeping myself there longer.

By this time, I have a coworker who can see them, but they cannot see her. I move with my back turned obviously, so they have time to look at me, and try to steal something while my coworker is watching (L). Then I turn around and continue helping people who aren’t there. The couple is intent on examining the denim shorts inside and out, down to the minutest details–literally–then they put it down and both leave (M). Nothing is stolen.

So, what were their mistakes?
A) Being ignored attracts attention, but it does not mean suspicion.
B) If you do ignore me when I speak English, yet you do not speak a foreign language to each other while trying to communicate–you do begin to arouse suspicion.
C) Nothing wrong here.
D) The awkward exchange with no speaking does arouse suspicion, but only slightly begging, “Why don’t you just say, ‘Take the bag’?”
E) The huge bag was the first, dead giveaway. The fact this bag is not even filled with enough clothes to merit a bag that size is also a giveaway.
F) The second time I am ignored is important, as they have aroused suspicion, even foreign language speakers cannot pretend to ignore me when I get this close and loud. Thus, they are trying to avoid detection acting invisible, yet making themselves glaringly obvious.
G) Her surprise, showed a highly defensive nature toward a bag which was not even filled with anything. Using the sunlight outside, I could only see a few shirts in there. Her surprise was a second huge giveaway. Plus, this isn’t a high-end shopping bag.

H) The important part here is they go to the women’s side, but in (D) he gave his bag away–generally, the woman gives her bag to the man when she shops in the women’s department. When couples shop together in the women’s department, men also carry the bag, because women to the shopping. Secondly, yes, the tight corner with little visibility is another giveaway as it is the best spot to steal.
I) In itself, no suspicion here.
J) They are trying very hard to be invisible, which means they will only look at me when they are prepared to steal.
K) By this time, even the most hard-headed of customers make eye-contact with me. So yes, it is suspicious.
L) My coworker wasn’t trained in the Art of War in Retail, so she didn’t get my hint I gave her, because I gave them 180-degrees of freedom behind my back. As they could not see her, but she could see them, it was a good opportunity to catch them stealing–but they didn’t know when I’d turn around, so that is also a deterrent.
M) Their examination of the shorts is excruciating. They spent too much time looking at it, and also examining the lining on the inside, which was actually where we place hard sensors. Their remarkable interest in the seam was lame and boring and far too long, they were obviously waiting for me to leave so they could steal. When I did not leave, they left instead.

I had wanted a better challenge than this, within the first five seconds they already gave themselves away as shoplifters and dug themselves deeper and deeper. You need to do a balance of normal customer and rude customer in order to steal properly–if you offend a salesperson, you have a better chance of making them go away. Think about it. Ignoring someone is not nearly as effective. Trust me.

Shoplifter: How to Spot Them

June 1, 2010

Recently, some have challenged me, questioning how I can point out shoplifters–especially professionals. There are certain things you need to be a good shoplifter, partly I get this from observation, understanding, and my background in Psychology.

One of the most important things you need is a bag. You cannot steal unless you have a bag. I often give these people the opportunity to take off the clothes, mentioning it isn’t in the fitting room anymore, so I’ll save the room for them to finish changing. (Although there are some who will put on clothes and then walk out, but if you are aware in a fitting room, even on the sales floor, it isn’t hard to notice something isn’t right. I have also seen shoplifters walk out with entire piles of clothing. Once, a District Manager found her staff being lazy, so she actually moved an entire table out of the store, hiding it, then asked them, “What’s going on here? Why is there a table missing?”) I do not say people steal only with bags, but regardless, it is far easier to walk out of a store with stolen merchandise in a bag–unless it is a holiday or the salespeople are lazy, ignorant, or partially blind. I actually would think it’s disgraceful to steal from a blind person, but that’s my personal feelings.

As for bag-people, if they ask for a bag, you have zero-obligation to give them a bag unless they’ve made a purchase. Yes, I’ve made a shoplifter buy a pair of socks for a bag, just ensuring that he use his bag to steal from other stores than my own. A majority are left with the bags they have, which are generally easy to access with wide openings. Backpacks, yes, are left unzipped. Yet, others use shopping bags which are used and recycled far more than they should be. Others purchase special purses and bags for this purpose. Regardless, they should have a wide opening for easy access.

Secondly, a shoplifter has to know where you are. This is more crucial. If a salesperson is standing right next to a shoplifter, they can’t steal–and they can’t steal if they don’t know where all the salespeople are. (Once more we do have the blindness aspect, but that’s just crude.) This is one reason I move so quickly and randomly on the sales floor–you never know where I am or where I’ll appear. As some have told me, “You think there are people who generally don’t steal, but when they see no one is around, they are tempted to steal?” If no one is around, it’s our fault–or the fault of the staff on hand.

Shoplifters must pay as much attention to the salespeople as they do to the clothes, most often, they’ll spend more time finding out who works here and where they are located, before they can start stealing. Most customers don’t even see me coming, since I approach them from behind, surprising them with a greeting. Even shoplifters who are professionals, and know only to look for salespeople right before they steal something already catch the attention of a good salesperson–because that look almost always means, “I need help, where is a salesperson?” Giving the ‘look’, and then saying, “Oh, I’m just looking,” is already a warning-sign. If they are just looking, but not just looking at clothes, they have issues.

There are others who distract you by making you look away or get something for them. In this situation, it isn’t hard to ask someone else to get the item, while you wait with the shoplifter. I don’t know about everyone else, but I use my peripheral vision more than my center of gaze when looking at anything. One time shoplifters have distracted a coworker in order to walk out with a pile of clothing–literally, an entire pile walked right out of the store.

Shoplifters cannot help but act in a very particular fashion, even if they try to hide it. There are essential, basic needs they have in order to function, once you understand this, you understand the shoplifter. In the end, I still believe in the main idea–Treat Everyone Like Shoplifter. Give them good service, pay attention to them, watch them shop and help them by seeing what they look at, what interests them. Shoplifters can’t steal easily if you’re helping them the entire time.

Shoplifter: Hey, What’s Up?

May 21, 2010

I am at the register, trapped being a cashier. Even then, I always look up, I always check my surroundings, and just as our usual shoplifter walks in, I see him. Tall, skinny, shades, with tattoos down his arms, and carrying his open backpack in his hand. I tell people to keep an eye on him since I am stuck with a customer. I watch as he moves, and then stop watching when a coworker takes over. So I continue to help my customer at the register, and the shoplifter comes up to me, stopping and smiling, he says, “Hey, what’s up?” Then, he walks away and leaves.

Shoplifter: Tag Team Torn

May 18, 2010

A new shoplifter came into the store, but he was about as obvious as any of them. He walks around with his backpack open. He won’t make eye-contact, but he will constantly look around and check out where every salesperson is in the store. He often puts his bag down right under a pile of clothes he’s looking through. For him, he is a bigger man, not in very good shape. He is dressed sloppy, with an over-sized, dirty shirt, tattoos, and sunglasses with a hat. He’s entirely ready to change his look, while failing all the while. If they did have a guild of shoplifters, they’d need a different look requirement.

A week before, one of my co-workers was furious, because a tag-team hit her. She was told to watch the man, and literally, right behind her, the woman was loading her bags. This is the effective tactic of the tag-team–one distracts and one attacks. Read the Art of War if you wish for more insight. Actually, I used to train all my co-workers from the Art of War tactics to deal with customers as well as shoplifters effectively, but I haven’t trained anyone in nearly a year.

So I’m standing helping him, actually my manager has put us all on alert saying to keep our eyes on him and watch him. A woman walks by, dressed decently, warmly, and actually looks like she’s a visitor from South America, since she doesn’t reply when I speak to her, only with a shy, polite nod. I think nothing of her, until someone says, “That’s the other one!” Now, their tactic is complete–she doesn’t dress or act like a shoplifter of lore. If I were a warrior looking for a dangerous monster, and I see a tiny white rabbit, I don’t think danger; yes, I admit looks can be deceiving. Caerbannong!

I immediately realize she has the actions of a shoplifter, but a new one. When I approach her again, I realize she does speak English. I do several of my surprise tactics, rounding corners to say, “Hello!” which admittedly makes her jump. I also appear out of thin air when she tries to run into a fitting room, and I count her items–one, two pieces of denim.

To make herself obvious, she puts her bag down, open, facing the door, so you can ‘obviously’ see she isn’t stealing. What makes it curious is that she is trying to steal; the fact of this is revealed later. Putting her bag like this just puts a stamp on her guilt, it just means she’s being tricky about it.

She emerges with her two pairs and says she wants them, and then quickly walks away. Using mirrors, as I always do, I track her movements until she’s about to disappear–and I point in her direction to another co-worker. This time I make an err, as my vantage point is actually her vantage point, yet one rarely used–she saw me pointing at her in the mirror. Now, it’s cat and mouse.

Remember all those poor customers we ignore when we’re dealing with shoplifters? Woe is them. I refused to leave my area to follow her, which the manager was mad about, but  don’t give me sop stories about customers needing help, then expect me to ignore them to follow a lady around the store. Of course, she disappears, but out of sheer luck, another coworker passes her near the exit asking if we can put the denim at the counter for her. The shoplifter turns, and the plastic sensors drop out of the pockets. The woman shoves the denim at my coworker then runs out.

There we find two huge, torn holes in the denim where the sensors used to be. She had ripped them through the pants, basically ruining them–including one which was denim short-shorts. Yes, she was an amateur. They also said by the time she left she was shaking and trembling. Congratulations, I don’t think she’ll be coming in any time soon. At least, she refreshed my views on watching how people look and how people act.

Shoplifter: Wire Cutters

May 16, 2010

Yes, I am a  busy-body. Yes, workers from other stores do come in to tell me about shoplifters.

A guy who works at a cosmetics store in the mall is standing at the counter. I know him, and said hello, since he hasn’t been in the store for a while. We start to talk about all the shoplifters, and he says they come in all the time. Just last week, they saw a guy with a bag full of our clothes–the man was standing in their store cutting off the hard-tags with a pair of wire cutters. Obviously, I asked if they are ever allowed to do anything. He says no, they can only watch. Now isn’t that comforting? It is so comforting, at least we have rules in place to encourage these thieves.

Shoplifter- Rule #1

May 14, 2010

The first rule I tell anyone I train, “Treat everyone like a shoplifter.” Before you back away and gasp in surprise, you need to understand how we treat a shoplifter. We pay attention to them, we notice what they’re looking at, offering suggestions so they know we’re there, we’re available. No matter where they look, they can always see us. How is that not great customer service?

I don’t just say hello to customers that come in, I watch what they look at, this way I get an idea of what they want, what they are shopping for. I generally ask if they need another size, but I also offer other alternatives, too. Whenever they hold something, I ask if I can put it aside in a fitting room or at the registers for them.

Some customers are utterly amazed when they walk into the fitting room and I ask, “I saw you looking through the pants at the front of the store, I see you didn’t find your size, did you want me to check if we have it?”
“How did you even see from here?”
I laugh, “I see everything, it’s okay.”

This is how you should treat every customer, because anyone could be a shoplifter. This is how you should treat every shoplifter, because anyone could just be a customer.

Shoplifter- Caution, Keep Clear

May 13, 2010

I’m walking near the front of the store and I see two women who look like shoplifters–and coworkers have said previously, “Don’t judge people like that!” and right after this a manager of another store said, “Did you see those two women, they just stole from my store!” I eventually found the stolen shorts thrown under a rack. I don’t know what’s worse–that I can spot a shoplifter or that they make themselves so obvious.

Okay, so, the shoplifters outside walk into a store right across from us, and I notice how they have this big, colorful shopping bag. When they leave, they aren’t carrying it anymore. Soon, I see another man leaving carrying that colorful bag–they’re tag-teaming! (Tag-team is when one shoplifter goes in to distract everyone, and then another less obvious shoplifter–who generally doesn’t dress the same–enters and steals while everyone else is distracted.) I watch the two women enter the next store as all the employees converge on them–I assume the women are loud and obnoxious. Either way, the man proceeds to enter the store and starts to throw things into his bag, and me and my coworkers are standing there watching, since I don’t know what to do really. Customers outside that store are just standing and watching as he leaves with his bags full of clothes.

Later, my manager says, “And all the customers in our store didn’t have anyone to help them.” As I think to myself, “Seriously?” If that were in our store, and has previously happened, she drags me out and tells me to follow them around and not let them out of my sight–what happens to the customers there?

I get off work soon after this debacle. I know the direction the shoplifters went, and I think about which stores would be the best to hit, considering the type of stores they visit. So I walk up, and lo-and-behold, there they are in a kitchen store ‘browsing’. Nearby is another clothing store where a previous coworker is managing, so I go in, and tell him about the women as they walk by. And I’m standing there pointing at them as they look at us, and they walk away.

I tell the same manager this story, and I get the reply, “I knew someone who was trying to be brave like that and he got stabbed.” Thanks? All I could really reply was, “I’m also packing.” Just don’t tell anyone.

Shoplifter: Backpacker

May 8, 2010

One day, as is usual, I start working and I find a shoplifter hard at work filling a bag with our clothes. Of course, no one is around and no one even sees them. Seriously, they act a certain way, and sadly, they look a certain way, it is kind of lame. These women before me are dressed like sloppy sluts, but weighing about a hundred pounds more–their string camisole is two sizes too small, allowing you to see the bra-strap underneath, with their stomach and sides showing; they wear tight, tight denim shorts and flip-flops (slippers) and even walk kind of like a duck and kind of like an orangutan. They seriously look like they’ve had too much to eat and too much to drink for several years in a row. To me,they stand out as much as a gothic trying to hide in the snow. Either way, while the shoplifter has her large, bulky, yet extra-small tank-topped body turned away from me, I sneak behind her. Yes, I can be a ninja, too! Beware as I glide silently wearing my Italian heeled-boots! Whoosh! I duck behind the whale-sized ninja.

I find her bag in a corner, which is actually one of our backpacks. She has almost completely filled it with pants and shirts. She’s folded them quite nicely, and has a pile of hangars nearby. She’s quite a packer, she must travel a lot, eh? Obviously, she’s been filling the bag for a while, and yet again, I sigh in disappointment with my coworkers–she must have been doing this for several minutes already. Can they at least look around? Look up from the cash-registers, come out, and walk around a little; don’t hide behind the wall of protection! Anyhow, I grab the bag and hide behind a pillar as she walks back to her hot spot. I glide away in a cloud of smoke. Poof, I am gone.

I leave the backpack at the counter, quickly walking back to her, to see how much the thief enjoys being stolen from. I ask how she’s doing. She mumbles something, and starts to leave. I tell her, “I have your bag at the counter if you need it.” When she doesn’t reply, and keeps walking, I say, “I’ll keep it on hold for you. I’ll remember you. Don’t you worry!”

One point for sales-ninja! Zero for the gaijin mochi-ball in a tank-top. *Sad face for you*