Monday, November 16, 2009

The Basics of Shoplifting

Having been both the shoplifter and the retail employee, I've become something of an expert on the differences between a successful shoplifter, and an idiot facing 2 years probation and $1500 in fines over a couple of CDs. If you are contemplating leaving your debit card at home the next time you go shopping, then it would be to your benefit to pay attention. Some of this will seem like the most obvious thing in the world, but you'd be amazed at how many would be thieves get tripped up on them. The following advice is for those of you just getting your fingers wet, but much of it is good advice regardless of how long you've been "discount shopping".

Be Clean & Presentable
Do not go into a store wearing pajama bottoms and your hair a hot mess. The employees will take note of your trashy ass, if for no other reason than to make fun of you. You cannot steal shit if the employees are watching you, at least not while you're still getting your chops. Likewise, do not show up in ultra low rise jeans that remove all speculation about your shaving habits, or with a purple mohawk. Anything that draws attention to you is a big no no. Save the sexy clothes or the 20 piercings for people whose opinion you actually give a shit about. For shoplifting, you want to be clean and modestly dressed. Boring and unremarkable, in other words, the sort the employees will notice and immediately dismiss as not hot enough to flirt with nor ugly enough to laugh at.

Ignore Store Employees
Retail employees all know that shoppers only make direct eye contact when they want to be helped. Otherwise, shoppers tend to ignore staff, or even outright avoid them. Unless you want that employee to start staring back, avoid the urge to constantly sneak peeks at him. If you must keep an eye on the employees, learn to use the store mirrors if they have them, or your peripheral vision if they don't. Better yet, mark their position in the store, and then ignore them. After their initial interest in you wanes, they'll return the favor.

Be White, or Shop With White Friends
Oh shut the fuck up. You know I'm right. Employees will watch black and hispanic shoppers WAY more than they will white. It doesn't matter if you're well dressed and carrying a dozen platinum cards, they'll still watch you. I've had black co-workers drop everything to eyeball young black males coming into the stores, and they've been quick to tell me to keep my eye on the brothas as well. However, if you have some like minded white friends who can play the game, (and I don't mean a pack of head bobbing wiggers either) they'll go a long way towards assuring the retail staff that you're an oreo and therefore ok. Better still, be Asian and in the midwest! Everyone has this image of hard working, family honor upholding Asians in the midwest. Go ask the employee something in horribly broken English if you really want to make sure they avoid you. For the rest of you who are white... don't shoplift with your black or hispanic friends. While your presence will help deflect some of the attention they'd normally receive, it increases that directed at you substantially!

No Hams Between Your Thighs!
We've all heard the stories about hugely fat women who stuck hams, turkeys, and even TVs between their gargantuan thighs and walked out unaccosted. However, I strongly advise against doing anything that will affect the way you walk. This also goes for the fake preggo belly that people stash shit in. This is something for the pros, mainly because it's not easy to slip shit up under your dress or shirt and into that fake belly without a lot of practice, and it's nigh impossible to walk normally with anything clenched between your thighs. If you go waddling towards the door looking like you're about to shit yourself, it's going to attract attention, and if you have to make a run for it you will certainly lose your prize. Sliding a pack of ribeye steaks into your waistband and under your shirt is fairly simple and will go unnoticed as long as your shirt isn't form fitting. It also has the added benefit of being unlikely to fall to the ground at the worst possible moment.

Get Those Tags OFF!
If you are shoplifting in a store with security tags, be sure to peel off anything that can possibly be scanned, including price tags with bar codes. Don't be fooled into thinking there is only one per item. I got busted at Hastings for stealing a damn cassette (Derek & The Dominos, original Layla version) because while I did peel off the plastic wrap with the security thing on it, I didn't think to open the cassette and look for more... and apparently there was something in that damn thing because it set off the detectors. I still would have pulled it off, had it not been for my idiot boyfriend, and it was his idea to swipe the damn thing in the first place! I had $800 cash on me at the time. Rather than make a mad dash for the residential neighborhood just across the parking lot where we could have quickly vanished, that dumb fuck refused to break from a slow walk. This brings me to the next point.

Shop Alone
In my original draft, I gave advice on how to successfully steal in packs. A few hours after publishing it though, I realized that regardless of how tempting it may be to bring your friends on board, you're better off keeping your new found hobby under your jacket, so to speak. There are a number of reasons why, one of which is that it's difficult to coordinate actions/reactions with a group, thereby increasing the risk of a bust. My idiot boyfriend got me caught because he refused to accept we were busted when the detectors went off. His lack of reaction meant the store employees, who were fucking off in the very back of the store, had plenty of time to chase us down and get a hand on my purse. Had he run... or had I been smart enough to take off and leave his stupid ass... they probably would have lost all interest by the time they hit the doors. Then again, how many of us are willing to run off and leave our friends behind to take the heat?

Another, possibly more important reason, and certainly one that has led to many regrets for me, is the erosion of friendships. Shoplifting is contagious, perhaps because it's often viewed as a victimless crime. Many of your friends will join in, regardless of their personal feelings about the ethics of such things. Sooner or later though, they will stop viewing it as fun and exciting, and start looking at you in a different light. They'll begin to distance themselves from you, partly to protect themselves from developing the reputation of a thief, but also because they're starting to see the real you and wondering just how deep the rabbit hole really goes. It may not matter to you now, but years from now you'll look back and wonder, why did we stop hanging out? The moral of this is that if you intend to shoplift, or steal things in general, resist the urge to share your activities with those around you. Getting them to join in the fun does not validate what you're doing, and it will only cause problems later on.

Stick (it) to Corporate America
Keep your thieving to corporate businesses. Leave the mom & pops alone. Small, independently owned businesses are what built this country. Walmart, however, can go fuck itself, just like it does it's employees. I extend that sentiment to ALL big box stores and chains. The added bonus is that most employees of corporate owned businesses are FORBIDDEN to interfere with your nefarious activities, because corporate is terrified you'll sue them for racism or assault or some other nonsensical reason. If that's not enough, half of them don't give a shit anyway... because they're busy stealing out of the stock room.

Keep it under 20 for starters
For those just now entering the world of shoplifting, keep in mind that theft under $20 is a Class C misdemeanor, generally resulting in the cop writing you a ticket similar to a traffic ticket, rather than actually arresting you. If you're just boosting for kicks, or not yet comfortable with your shenanigans, keep your thievery to items under $20 total. The fine will FAR outweigh what that CD was worth (up to $1500 in some states), but it beats being arrested, finger printed, photographed, and subsequently bailed out. Plus, you can occasionally talk your way out of the store calling the cops at all for such a petty crime, especially if you're a good looking girl caught by guys, and you cry about how you've never done it before and you're sorry and you just wanted it so badly. Your first bust will pretty much determine if you like shoplifting enough to continue, despite the consequences. No sense in it coming with a $10,000 fine and 10 years probation.

Follow Your Instincts
This is the most important rule of all. If you listen to nothing else I say, listen to your gut. If you are walking along in a store, your purse stuffed to the gills with odds and ends, your pockets full of stolen treats, and all of the sudden that little voice in your head pipes up and says "Um, dude, something is wrong", listen to it. Humans are born with a strong survival instinct, but most ignore it because it's easier to pretend everything will be ok. This is why little kids get into vans with strangers, and girls go home with creepy guys. Learn to listen to your gut. Even though you don't realize it, on a subconscious level you may have noticed a guy following you around the store, or caught the whispers and glances passed between two employees as they looked your way. Your first few attempts at shoplifting will result in your instincts screaming "DON'T DO IT! WE'LL BE CAUGHT" no matter what, but as you get more comfortable with your techniques and surroundings, that will go away. After that point, listen to it should it reappear. Before I ever hit those detectors at Hastings, that voice was in high gear. "NO GOOD NO GOOD" it kept saying, and I actually stopped and calmly told my boyfriend, hey we need to go look at such and such real quick, thinking I could ditch the cassettes in one of the aisles. He ignored me and headed on out, and so I ignored my instincts and fell in line... right through the squalling detectors.

As a side note, you may be thinking that boyfriend wanted me to get caught. Perhaps, but I can't imagine why. He took to thieving with gusto, even pushing me to new limits, taking me out of the misdemeanor range and well into the felony one. He was also a cop... and one of many corrupt cops I've known over my lifetime. On two occasions that was what kept us both out of jail, as the first cop on the scene quickly let us go rather than bust one of their own. Perhaps one of my "basics" should include finding a dirty cop and making him your new best friend.

There's a lot more to being a successful shoplifter than what I've outlined, but this is enough to get you a good start. Dress conservative, ignore employees, shop alone, remove ALL security tags, stick to stores full of employees that don't give a shit, and listen to your instincts. Should you do all this, and still find yourself being followed through the aisles, ditch the merchandise. After all, it isn't theft if you haven't left the store with it.

Disclaimer. The preceding is intended for "entertainment purposes" only. It is not intended to set you on your road to a life of crime. If you get busted for stealing, don't even think you can use this article to get the judge off your ass. He'll just laugh at you, and I'll laugh at you for being such a fucking ignorant pussy.