View Mobile Site

We all pay a big price for brazen shoplifting & even soda thievery

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED September 13, 2009 1:16 a.m.
I always thought I would make a good loss prevention officer in a retail store, because everything seems to happen right in front of me.

Saturday was no exception as I was waiting in In ‘N Out burger for my usual – a protein cheese burger with pickles and grilled onions.  And, of course, a medium soda is always part of my lunch.  All that for $3.58 and drink refills too.  But, what I witnessed was something of the “last straw” in shoplifting.  However, it was not the straw, but rather the cup that was in question.

I did not expect to see four sodas brazenly pilfered while standing there in the middle of the dining room waiting for my order.  The staff was busy with the Saturday afternoon crowd and paying no attention. The teens they have working there are quite the bunch and it is fun to see how professionally they engage each other and their customers even during their busy times.  They have been trained well.

As I’m standing there watching and recognizing  character and personality in faces, two nicely dressed women and a youngster about 8 years old came in and took the only available table.  The grandmother was a little cranky about the dirty table and told her daughter to get someone to clean it off – which was taken care of immediately.

As they settled around the table another older woman joined them and the grandmother opened her purse and took out several In ‘N Our burger soda cups stacked inside each other that had obviously been used in the past.  She gave each of her family members at the table a cup and they all went to get their drinks as they waited for their lunch order to be filled.

It was a good thing the dispenser had water as it gave them to opportunity to wash out the cups from earlier residue – really interesting to watch.   Hopefully not too many people rip off the soda dispenser as that could lead to In ‘N Out putting the drinks behind the counter with no refills. There probably aren’t too many folks who actually take advantage of the system in this way.

What really bothered me is what they were teaching the young boy with them on how not to pay for the drinks.  Some day he will probably share that memory in “show-and-tell” at school.  Teachers – every one of them – can write a book about kids spilling the beans from their family-life experiences.

Pouring sugar into baggie in purse
Another restaurant experience came several years ago when Mary Lou and I were at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks, Nevada.  We were sitting there waiting for our breakfast and I noticed a woman in a booth across from us fidgeting with her very large purse.

She opened it and there was a good sized Ziploc bag inside that was visible.  She reached across the table and picked up the large, glass sugar dispenser – unscrewed the top, and poured all of the sugar into the plastic bag in her purse.  She closed the bag so the sugar wouldn’t spill, put the cap back on the container and slid it back across the table.  When the waitress came the couple ordered two cups of coffee.

Wow, that took nerve, I thought.  But really, it was no different than bringing your own plastic soda cups – the identical cups you would be given if you purchased the drinks at In ‘N Out’s counter and stealing soda.  

Brazen Costco burglary years ago
On my “cops’ beat” assignment there have been many cases of shop lifting I have covered  in stores from Wal Mart and Target to Kohl’s and Mervyn’s where shoppers have cased the store and think they can get past the eyes of the loss prevention officers.

Often times they are taking so much and even secreting their stash near an exit that they are charged with store burglary rather than simple shop lifting.  It’s hard to beat the security cameras mounted in the ceilings that keep enforcement at its best.  With our full county jail they are usually just given a citation, having learned what they did wrong: If at first you don’t succeed, try again.  They are right back on the street doing it over, doing it better, usually for clothes and shoes they need – really upset about having their picture being taken for the paper.

The ultimate involved our son when he was a rookie police officer in Chula Vista – a Southern California city about the size of Modesto.  He had worked at Costco for several years serving as manager of a number of departments.

Early on in his first year, and on graveyard shift, there was a call of a burglary in progress at his Costco store.  Thieves had taken a stolen car and rammed the glass front doors with the car speeding backwards in reverse.

They advanced on some 35 employees stocking at 2 a.m. with shotguns in hand – forcing them all to lie on the concrete floor.  The gunmen used the butts of their guns to break out the jewelry cases and fled with all they could collect from the show cases.

Tim was a valuable asset that night because he knew the store like the back of his hand knowing where all the doors – as well as the vault – were located.  The robbers were finally caught weeks later in a similar midnight robbery in Los Angeles.

What apparently came out of that night was that many of the big box stores now have steel pillars spaced evenly in front of their glass entrances – preventing someone else from crashing their way into their businesses with theft on their minds.

We all eventually pay the price of shop lifting. It becomes overhead that has to be passed on to the customer whether it’s a petty thing at In ‘N Out or a jewelry store robbery at New York Diamonds on South Main Street.  And, now with the threat of 16 Manteca Police officers about to lose their jobs, the threat becomes more ominous.
Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...