Being a retail girl for awhile now, I've seen plenty of shoplifting or evidence thereof. One time when I was working, two women came in to shop for Christmas gifts. I talked to them for a few minutes and thought I understood that they needed to stay within a reasonable budget. I pointed out some popular items that were a good price and one of the women immediately went to a table of very expensive sweaters. Those will run you a bit more, I said, about $300.00. She looked at me and said, "Do you think I can't afford these?" I was so taken aback, so flustered and embarrassed that I had misunderstood her that I apologized and told my coworker I'd be in the back room for a minute. As I was coming back those two were running out the door with $2000.00 worth of leather coats.
I was set up. Masterfully.
My niece works for a large chain of women's clothing that I bet you've been to many times. They are ripped off constantly, including the shoplifters who try to return what they've stolen for cash. Mom would be so proud, ladies. She told story after story of blatant shoplifting that even after years of working retail stunned me.
Like the store I worked for when the leather coats were stolen, you cannot accuse, confront or chase after a shoplifter. You don't know if they have a gun is what the managers will tell you and nobody's life is worth it. And if you know they have all your leather coats you watch them run out the door.
While I agree with that, the rest of us are paying to keep women who you wouldn't guess in a million years of being shoplifters in some mighty fine threads. As we're handing over payment at the register for our stuff, they're in the dressing room cutting off security tags and shoving the stuff they like into a tote bag.
I worked for a small clothing boutique for a couple of years until they closed. Two teenagers came in and tried on some dresses and then left them in a heap on the dressing room floor. When one of the salespeople went to clean it out, a $300.00 dress was missing and she grabbed her cell phone and went looking for them in the shopping center. She spotted them in the drugstore and kept an eye on them while she called the police.
When the cops showed up she had them take a look at their backpacks, and there was the shoplifted dress along with some makeup from the drugstore. As the cops hauled them away she yelled after them to never come in her store again.
It wasn't really HER store, but we all felt ownership for this place we loved to work, and were willing to put up a fight to keep people from walking out the door with whatever they want.