I thought I’d seen it all when it came to external theft, and for the most part I think I have. Every now and then something will come up that will surprise me, or blow me out of the water. In my job I handle both internal theft as well as developing solutions aimed to prevent shoplifting. Every now and then the two areas merge together in ways that are truly unbelievable.
Not three months ago, I was sitting in my office, working on an investigation, when my eyes could no longer stare my computer monitor. I needed a break so I decided to walk the sales floor for a little while, maybe even catch a shoplifter. I was burning the midnight oil so to speak. I’m normally out by five, but I was working on a complex case and it was easily past eight, but I still had a ton of reports to sift through. After a few loops around the store, I came across two guys in their early 20s looking at athletic apparel. Their behavior was odd, so I decided to observe them for a bit. It didn’t take long before both individuals began concealing merchandise. I watched as both subjects defeated the Alpha 2 Alarm Tags by deactivating them at any empty register, and walked out of the store with my merchandise. That was a first. I had watched people try everything under the sun to get around the Alpha Security systems, but never had I seen someone walk up to a register so casually. Now, I had a good excuse to stop working on my case. Processing a shoplifter takes about an hour, so I figured after this was done I would just head home finally. I was pretty hungry anyway.
I made the apprehension and they would eventually go to jail that night. It was a pretty normal stop with nothing out of the ordinary. A few weeks went by and get subpoenaed to go to court. The day came and I prepared just as I had for every other case. I printed out all of my statements, photographs and even had a copy of video in my hand ready to present to the judge. There was no doubt that these two guys were guilty and nothing they could say could change my mind. It was a solid case. I sat in the courthouse for several hours until my case was called up. The judge called the first suspect up and asked him to tell his side of the story. My shoplifter prefaces his story with “Your Honor, it all started when I called the store and spoke to my friend.” What was I about to hear?! He went on to say that his friend, who is a supervisor, told him that it was a good time to come steal. He continued with details that made me realize he was telling the truth. He identified the supervisor by name, and a quick social media check showed the two were in fact friends. He went as far as to say the supervisor told him how to deactivate the Alpha Security tags at an empty register and what aisles to steal on that were not covered on camera.
I was amazed. At no point in my entire career had anything like this ever happened. He didn’t mention this during the apprehension, or even when questioned by the responding officers. I definitely would have liked to have known this supervisor was dirty 3 months ago. By the end of the day, he was found guilty, but based on his statements; the court imposed a lighter sentence. As for the supervisor… she was arrested a few weeks later once we uncovered that she was stealing hundreds of dollars in bank deposits.
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