Two women came into the store today and attempted to steal from us. It was exciting.
They arrived, each carrying a large paper bag, and quickly wandered off in separate directions, each heading to opposite ends of the store. There are certain behaviors that we know to watch for, and two people arriving together and splitting up wordlessly raises flags. There were a few other indicators that the women were going to steal from us, so the owner and I each picked a woman to watch carefully. I saw my mark looking at some items on one of our shelves as I passed by her, but just at the crucial moment when my back was to her I heard a slight rustle. I turned and noted that two small flashlights were no longer on the shelf and that the woman had circled back out of my sight around the gondola.
I waited until she was back in sight to see if she was carrying the flashlights in her hand, but she wasn't, which told me they were in the paper bag she was still carrying. So I took five steps to the phone and dialed 911. I shot the owner a look and paced to the back room, where I informed the police of the situation, our address, and what had been taken. The operator spoke tersely away from the phone, then informed me that police were on the way. He then asked for a description of the women. They were standing in view of the backroom, so I looked out and gave their description. "If they're still in the store, tell me when they leave so I can inform the officers," the operator said.
I turned back around to look out and saw an enormous police officer walking in our open door. He was about 6' 6", 250 lbs, and his head was shaved. I informed the operator that the police had already arrived and rang off. The officer bellowed something like "Hi ladies, I need to look in both of your bags." Behind him, another two uniformed officers and two plainclothes detectives entered and positioned themselves near our front and back exits.
The woman who had taken the flashlights started to turn, but by some inconvenient stroke of luck her bag tore open; food, shoes, and our flashlights spilled out onto the floor. "Those weren't in my bag," she announced stupidly. "Of course not, they just fell out of your bag," the officer replied. Absurdly, at that moment the other woman's bag also ripped open, revealing another two items.
We didn't press charges, but the women were informed that they were not to come back to our store again. So the moral of the story is: theft is for chumps.