Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ill Gotten Gains

One of the many unwriitten tasks that a retail employee has at their job is to look out for theft within the store. These means on top of dealing with irrate customers, even more mean employees, you are to put your safety in danger stopping potential thieves. All for minimum wage. Now I'm an intelligent person, and below this mask of bitterness and disappointment of where my life is going so far I actually do have plans for the future. Now none of these include getting stabbed or punched in the face trying to stop some guy/girl from stealing the latest Alt Rock or Rap CD.

Yet, as a retail employee we've all gone through anti-theft "training" telling us how to detect, deter, and apprehend thieves you my find in the store. There are actual people who make a living stealing from big box stores and fencing or return their ill-gotten gains. This is credited to why employees are paid so low because of retail theft there is not enough profit margin after selling plastic crap for "low low prices" and keeping their customer base....supposedly. This doesn't also take into account that every big box store has allocated 25% of its stock to be either damaged, broken, or stolen. Yes read that again, 25%. Now in another time I was also a security guard and I do know more than the average person about retail theft. The type of person varies greatly, and the ones who "look like thieves" are supposed to because their partner is dressed nice doing the actual stealing while the obvious person draws all your attention.

However if you're one of those poor fools who takes pride in their retail job, let me give you a warning before you try and go superhero on a thief. Let's say you see a person take something or stuffs it into their pockets and are walking out the door. I'll list the possible outcomes:

1. They ditch the item as they walk around the corner and you 'arrest' them = False Arrest = Sued = Fired
2. You do arrest them and the police are called = Wait between 1 and 6 hours for the police to show up. Also, the entire time you have to sit with the thief and listen to them beg to be let go. And 'protect' them from hurting themselves as your responsible for them as the arresting citizen, if not = sued. Why so long the wait? Because the police have real crimes to respond to and this is a paperwork nuisance. Don't forget your future UNPAID court time!
3. You see them walkout the door then you chase them and catch them. You get hurt in the process. Well if your company is like mine they have a 'No Chase' policy so at the least you'll just get fired. The worst a busted up face from a thief. Enjoy the rest of your shift with a swollen eye because you only get paid for time worked.
4. You confront the person as they walkout the door. BAM you get hit and they run off. Good work Quincy, now limp back to your post.

Let's say you do get the person, they're cooperative, and the police show up quickly. You give your statement. After that you get a quick pat on the back and told to go back to work. The same work that's been piling up since the theft began. Now you have even more work in even less time. Congratulations Hero!

However, the biggest part about retail theft is that the majority of it doesn't come from customers. No, it comes from bad employees like you and I! That's right, people get fed up with everything I've described so far and actually start taking things from the store. This is why there are cameras everywheres both in front and in the back of the store because management and corporate don't trust you. Why shouldn't they? I mean you make....oh that's right. Work prisoner work!

About 2 weeks into my new job I started eyeing things to steal. I honestly haven't yet because I haven't found an easy high volume item I can hide easily and turn for a good profit. I thought along the lines of SD photo cards or memory sticks, but besides being locked behind glass, they usually come in gigantic gawdy plastic packages that aren't so easy to dispose of off camera (employee washroom). They're also small in the inventory so it'll get noticed quickly if we come up short. I'll keep looking though. I've stolen lots from jobs I've worked before (+$3000 cash in one case over the course of 3 months) just so you don't think I'm bullshitting. Well, it is the internet... so trust me on that one.

I could rationalize my thinking process of why I did steal. The money never went to rent, or groceries, or kids I needed to support. The majority of it just went to leisure time fun. Not even the stereotypical drugs and booze but just to having some money left over after all my bills were paid to actually be able to enjoy my day off. Like going to a movie with my girlfriend, buying dinner at a sit-down non-fast food restaurant, and then having enough gas money to just drive around chatting with a coffee for the both of us. THAT'S ALL! And this wouldn't happen everyday. Maybe once a week max. It's also the difference between "minimum wage" and a "living wage".

But the retail overlords instead of actually raising wages and giving people a sense of pride in their work or making the money tolerable enough to stay, stick with a underpaid/undertrained disposable workforce that has so much turnover it's actually built into their business model.

So go ahead steal, I'll probably be happy to direct you to the good stuff.


  1. I lol'd at the thought of a security guard stopping thieves only to start pocketing stuff as soon as he gets back to the store.
    Good read as always, Tango.

  2. That is so lame. There seems to be no benefit at all to playing the hero these days. Chicks dig the prison-bound.

  3. I think my dad told me a while back the minimum wage has been the same when he worked in the late 70's. Isn't that crazy? He told me people use to go out and have money to eat out. Everything is so expensive these days! They need to raise the minimum wage big time. It's no wonder so many people steal these days lol

  4. That's so brutal. The problem really is with the system. It seems to just encourage stuff like thievery.