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I Am A Security Guard: How To Steal

On a recent Saturday night, a man with bad body odor and an even worse attitude walked up to the New Cashier. After paying for a bag of potato chips, he demanded an extra large bag. I figured the man would use it for garbage at home.

Of course, I should have known better. A few hours later, the man returned and disappeared into the back. Curiosity compelled me to sneak a peak. I found him stuffing toilet paper into the bag. When he saw me, he dropped the loot and bolted out the store.

The bag scam represents just one of many schemes that shoplifters use. The methods vary from simple to complex. If a thief thinks he has a smooth game and good luck, he will try to get over.

Some folks, especially rookies, use a basic hustle. Working alone, the perp will spot an item and look around. If he thinks no one is paying attention, the thief will stuff the loot in a pocket or bag and walk out the door.

Others have employed variations of the simple theft. One man slipped souvenir pens inside his pants. The pants had been tied at the cuffs. Another crook managed to stuff five cans of an energy drink inside the lining of his jacket. Some women take a stroller and load up in the cosmetics department. Then they circulate in a few aisles. When they think no one has followed them, they abscond with hot merch.

Other hustlers take the item out of the package. Once, I saw a woman snatch an eye pencil, toss the wrapper on the floor and walk away. I got mad that someone would do that in front of me. So, I grabbed the wrapper, tracked the woman down, and said, "You dropped this on the floor." She walked to a cashier and forked over the dough.

The bathroom provides a convenient spot for thieves. They grab an item, then ask an employee to open the loo. There, they will either use or conceal the merch. Some women have stolen pregnancy kits in this manner.

Experienced boosters employ more creative methods of the five-finger discount.

Some thieves will try to distract employees by making a purchase while stealing something else. For example, they will buy a cheap item like a candy bar and conceal expensive deodorant. Or they stash goods, like a case of soda, on the undercarriage of a cart. The thief unloads the main portion of the cart at the cash register. Since the counter blocks the cashier's view, the thief glides out the door with freebies.

A few devious characters have placed cardboard along the sides of a cart. The cardboard shields items from the camera and employees. Then the thief gradually moves near the exit, scoops up the bounty and makes a clean getaway.

Other thieves employ a numerical advantage to strike. My store has been hit by two-person crews. For example, two men will walk in separately. One will stay in the front and watch the guard. The partner will score some loot. The men leave together. A larger posse presents a greater threat. Let's say a group rolls six-deep into a store. One hood pockets a deck of cards. Who would risk a beat-down over a cheap item? Not me. Let them have it.

My store uses several means to combat theft. It has guards, locked cabinets, security cameras and sensors. We even ask unfamiliar customers to leave bags at the front late at night.

Despite these measures, shoplifters still have a fighting chance. A grunt-level employee who feels underpaid, like a guard or stock person, may not want to confront a criminal merely to protect The Man's profits. The cops don't want to spend time cuffing a booster over a few bottles of aspirin. Even if the officers make an arrest, a sharp defense attorney or public defender can help the perp skate. There are three questions the mouthpiece can ask a guard or manager: Did you see the person conceal the item? Did you keep your eyes on that person at all times? Did the person pass the point of sale? One "no" results in an acquittal.

My store pursues criminal charges when the dollar amount of the stolen property exceeds $100. Otherwise, we simply ban petty thieves.

That fate befell the toilet paper creep. He strolled into the store a few weeks after his attempted theft. I told him the manager had banned him. He said he hadn't done anything wrong. After a pregnant pause, I repeated the order. The man shrugged and walked out the door.


A very pseudononymous Jerome Haller earns rent money as a security guard for a large, publicly-held retail chain. He welcomes your comments.


See more tales of security guarding, pizzeria waitressing, barista-ing and office drudgering in our Life at Work collection.


Posted on June 21, 2010

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
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BOOKS - All About Poop.


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