Posts Tagged ‘take’

Shoplifter: The New Kids

October 18, 2010

“Folded clothes will eventually be touched;
But buying customers are here right now.”

I might have been schooled today by young shoplifters who unknowingly played the stealing game better than I. For one, we’re having a big visit tomorrow, so many people were spending time folding–yet, as big managers have said before, “I don’t care if the store looks like a tornado hit, if there are customers, and you make money, I’m happy.” Who cares if you folded the entire store beautifully, if you spent the entire day ignoring customers? Seriously, I was working my butt off today, trying to make money–our store has been having trouble, people have been losing hours, and yet the people who could be helping coworkers earn more hours are just standing around folding.

This struck a huge chord once I realized there were shoplifters. One of the new coworkers later said, “Oh, I said hi to them.” AND? No announcement of their arrival? Not a care to keep an eye on them and treat them like customers? Shoplifters and thieves have a hard time stealing if there is actual customer service going on around them. I was amazed when I saw them casually walking in the back of the store with their bags full and they were smiling and having fun. Why? Because no one was around them, at all. I rushed by, because I was helping several customers at one time, and said on the walkie-talkie, “THERE ARE SHOPLIFTERS IN THE STORE! They are obviously enjoying themselves, because their bags are full!” Everyone else sprung to action, because they saw who I saw, and instantly recognized them as shoplifters. As I’ve said, it’s sad when shoplifters look like shoplifters. Even worse, there were four of them!

I tried to finish with my customers, but I was burdened with too many, while trying to keep an eye on these shoplifters–even though I’m not trained to deal with them, I’m expected to deal with them. So I’m searching for a bag to get the price, seeing three coworkers at the cash register as I groan to myself. I walk by the shoplifters swearing, saying I’m looking for a bag–which ironically, I know they picked up one of our bags and filled it with clothes. They started to talk to me, saying, “Whoa, you just swore!” I talked to them about ‘the bag’ and refused to leave the area they were in–it was quite obvious they wanted the clothes in the front of the store.

Eventually, I had to move. No one was helping me deal with them, and I actually had customers waiting for me in the fitting room. This always irritates me to no end. As I turn to walk away, they leave, with the bag. Here, they were in a win-win situation. There was no tag on the outside of the bag–they are inside–so I couldn’t say, “Hey, that’s our bag!” They can just say, “I already bought it!” Nor can I legally look into their bag, even if it beeped when they left–although, it didn’t beep because these bags had no sensors on them, nor did the clothes they stole have sensors. I was in a helpless position, and all I could do was stop them from stealing more clothes. Instead, I grabbed all the bags of the same type and put sensors on them immediately.

I then had to leave for my lunch break. In that time, they actually returned twice–with us communicating to all the other stores nearby that these people are shoplifters. I was amused to hear, they came and tried to steal something, but they beeped at the door. Later, I found they tried to steal another one of my bags, but threw it in a corner when it beeped. At least I saved that bag. It just becomes tiresome when I have to deal with these shoplifters, and work hard to sell to customers, while I have to watch other people walking around ignoring customers, folding, and generally not carrying the weight of their own paychecks. Retail is killing me.

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Shoplifter: You Got Schooled, Redux

October 17, 2010

Four months ago, I had a couple come in and totally out themselves as shoplifters, because they did everything you’re not supposed to do in order to get away with it. Let us rejoin the action now.

A decently dressed young man comes in, and I know he’s from another store. He asks for a manager. I tell the manager someone is here. They want to know who needs them, etc., but I’ve already started to look around. As soon as the manager arrives, the guy says, “I’m from another store, and my manager sent me…”
I cut him off, “Where are they? I don’t see them.”
“Oh, you know?” He looks at me curiously, but I’m already walking away.
As I search the store, I see no one out of the ordinary, but I know he came to warn us about the shoplifters. I suddenly hear the manager say, “I need you in the front.” I find out they entered, and my manager tried to approach them, but they were scary, saying they don’t want any help. So she called on me to intercept.
I quickly arrive, and I’m slightly disappointed, it’s the same man from four months ago–although I thought it was only three months, even though I recently wondered why I haven’t seen them for so long. The woman was totally different, but the man, I recognized him instantly. So I rush up to him and greet him.
“Hey, it’s been a long time. I was wondering when you’d come in again!”
“What? I don’t know you.”
“Oh, come on, we talked in your favorite corner the last time. It was three months ago.” I wave at the same corner they always go to, and was informed later, that’s where the manager found them.
“I don’t know who you are.”
I wave at his female friend who is trying to be invisible, “I remember you, but you have a different woman with you this time. I definitely don’t remember her!” At this remark, she quickly darts out the front door.
As he tries to leave, I stop him, “The last time you said you have an IQ of 290. And I told you it doesn’t go that high!”
“I don’t know what my IQ is.”
“Yes, you said it was 290, that’s really bad for your IQ if you’re forgetting things. Shame, shame.” I shake my head at him. He’s taking a defensive stance, but I stand my ground, even approaching him.
He backs away, “I don’t know what you’re talking about! I don’t know you!”
“I know you, I remember you, I told you have a good memory.”
He steps outside, turning to the left, looking for his departed friend.
I yell, “I know which way she went, she went THAT way,” gesturing to the right. “Don’t worry, I”ll remember you when you come back again!”

You Can Have This Back…

August 19, 2010

Whenever the store opens, we always expect the returns to come in. I’m always waiting for the first return, so I can get it done with. Today, the woman comes in with a bag, ready to return. She hands me items that can’t be returned, but really, I don’t care. I don’t want issues, stress, or arguments at the beginning of the day, because I’ll have several more hours of legitimate irritation time anyway. So I just take the return, as she rummages through my counter–looking at things she’s not supposed to, grabbing coupons that are for buying customers and putting them in her purse. She’s really pushing my patience-buttons, but I let her do as she pleases, as long as I can get her out.

After the transaction, she hands me the bag she brought the returns in with, and says to me, “You can have this back.” Okay, thanks. I look at the bag from another store, a competitor, and let my eyes roll deeply into my skull, as I crumple it and throw it in the trash. “Thanks. Have a great day.”

Customer Type: The Blind, Capitalist, The Dumb

Shoplifter: You Got Schooled

June 15, 2010

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.

Shoplifter: They Got Away

June 13, 2010

Yes, last night, they got away. It was one of the rare times I wasn’t patrolling the front, like a hawk scavenging for food. I rarely see these shoplifters come in. I’ve seen them in the mall, but I usually just stand there with my hands on my hips and they turn around.

This night, I was checking the cash register, since I was in the back, and I have often been relegated to back-up the register. Then, I see one of them. They have the entire look of a shoplifter, so I walk towards her. The moment she sees me, she clutches her large bag tightly under her arm, and I duck behind a pillar–noticing she tries to hide the fact she’s seen me. In the Fountainhead, Dominique says Roark, “When you first meet someone, you reveal everything about yourself by your reaction. In turn, the other reveals everything by their reaction to your reaction.” (Or something like that, I haven’t read the book for a decade.) Thus, I always use a shoplifter’s first reaction to give away if they are or aren’t one. It’s like of like being shocked by static, even if you try hard, most people give it away.

So I hide behind the pillar, and I watch her looking for me–I disappeared into thin air. She is obviously not trained in ‘the mirror’ arts. But, I know there is another somewhere, and as I’m looking, I see the other appear near the mirror–because our boxers are arranged there. I swear at myself knowing they already stole from us. Yet, I’m still unseen. I just know the first woman gave the signal that someone was coming, so the second left. Amusingly, the last one, a man, stuck around at our scents–probably interested in stealing some cologne.

As I walk by him, I make sure he can hear my walkie-talkie conversation, “One of them is right here, so if you can watch, I’ll take a look if there is another.” As I say that, a co-worker tells me, “No, he just left out the front door.” So I walk up to the door, and I see him looking around with the “where did they go?” face. Obviously, I know where they went, so I yell out to him, “They went towards the chocolate store!” Sadly, he did not thank me for my help. But, now he knows I know. I’ll have something interesting planned next time.

I still want to do the 3-point fade-away shot with a sensor in their bag, so they can beep everywhere.

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: I Know You

May 7, 2010

One time, my previous store manager was walking next to a shoplifter. She told me to watch the woman, but decided to handle the situation herself.

“Hey, you. Yeah, I’m talking to you. I know you, don’t I? Yeah, I’m sure I know you.” And the woman keeps saying, no, she doesn’t recognize my manager. “Where are you from?” My manager starts naming different places, “Yeah, I’m sure I know you, I got friends all over. I’m sure they know you, too. I know your face, I don’t forget a face.”

I was standing there totally amazed, but my manager was quite protective of her store and her employees. She didn’t stop, until the woman stepped by the door, and pulling a pile of denim out of her bag, throws it on the floor–it was our denim she tried to steal. The shoplifter leaves, but after the door closes behind her, she sticks her middle fingers at my manager and starts to swear up a storm. I was thoroughly impressed. I have never gotten the chance to do this, but one can only dream, right?

So my manager casually picks up the denim, handing them to me, asking me to put them back where they belong. She smiles and then she walks away.