Thursday, June 15, 2006

Shoplifting: Case 07 - Takedown

   Trina had gone Rambo and chased a shoplifter outside. We were not supposed to do that.
   We could catch thieves in store aisles, but that made prosecution difficult. Best place was the checkout lanes. When detectors triggered, most sticky fingers froze. Or were nailed just outside the doors. Weren't supposed to ride their ass down like a Wild West posse, however. That was exactly what Trina had done.
   Or attempted to do.
   The crook had ignored the beeping, strolled outside, then quickened his pace once he passed Eckerd's. He must have heard footsteps behind him. Without warning, he spun around and dropped to a crouch, hands spread at either side. Flashed the razor. If Trina sought sidewalk fistfight, didn't mind getting cut up, he would oblige. She paused.
   Trina slunk back into the store, embarrassed and a little frightened. Dan and John reassured her. Her reaction was proper. New suits in Dallas would never back her up if there was an injury, as in if she got injured. More likely than not Trina would have been placed on probation or fired. Over and over, we instructed employees, especially new employees, that a handful of discs weren't worth the potential hassle.
   Still ...
   All employees dashed after petty shoplifters.
   I was just as guilty.
   An unwashed redneck in a baseball cap once pitched his stolen CD's in his truck bed and took off. I trotted along side, reaching into the bed, yanking our CD's back. Deadbeat. Had I used my intelligence I might have realized his truck could have run me into the curb, or I could have been smashed by oncoming traffic. I got hospitalized, who would praise me with, "Helluva job, Biscuit!" District suits? Of course not.
   Yet, human instinct urged one to protect their stuff. Defenseless creatures or societies got robbed into extinction.

   Late afternoon.
   The guy looked 19. Brown hair, curly, yellow t-shirt, denim jeans. Triggered radar across the room. His senses warned him, and he tried to quell suspicion by approaching employees with questions. First Ken, then Stacey. He smiled friendly, was enrolled in the local university, listened to alt rock.
   As Stacey said later, "He smelled like thief."
   Ken ran register. Stacey pretended to be busy with the front file server. Derek pretended to study the TicketMaster screen.
   Didn't even try to mask theft with a purchase. Brazen. Dreaming about getting high or getting laid later on. Sauntered into the detectors.
   Alarms triggered ... and ... he froze.
   Typical.
   Within an instant, Derek and Stacey flanked the bandit. He seemed dazed. Ken dialed 911, summoned the cops. I walked to the Listening Center, loaded Jane's Addiction and aired Been Caught Stealing, one of the two favorite store bust tunes.
   Then frat boy lost it.
   Started making excuses. Offered to pay. Don't phone the cops, Jesus, don't phone the cops. This was a hazing stunt. He had to steal something to be accepted in the fraternity. This couldn't be happening!
   Then he began struggling. Ken, ex military, full time national guard, advised him, "Be cool, man. Settle down, OK?"
   Crime lad bolted from the area. Derek tackled him, Stacey locked his arms. They threw him on the floor.
   "C'mon, man. You'll just rip your clothes."
   Frat house reject was in tears by the time the cops strolled in.
   Rich kid. Had over a hundred dollars in his wallet, three platinum credit cards.
   Also had a history a mile long.
   Daddy was someone with influence at City Hall.
   Police made the bust, junior got off on a technicality.
   Bastard. Next time.
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