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Retail Tales with Brian Brehmer: #3 Stealing

Retail Tales with Brian Brehmer: #3 Stealing

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In retail you are bound to have thieves, it is sadly the nature of the business. In my years of working retail, I have seen people steal things, odd things, things that make you ask yourself:

“Why did someone take this or why didn’t they just steal the whole thing?”

Take food for example. I have seen people steal almost anything edible over the years with the possible exception of milk (but that could have happened on a day that I was off for all I know). One egg? Someone took the time to open up a dozen eggs and take out just one. Did the recipe call for just one egg? Were they hungry and said one egg will hit the spot? Why not two or three, at least enough to make a good omelet or enough scrambled eggs to tide you over until lunch?

A stick of butter. Yes one stick of butter. They opened up a box of butter and took out one stick and left the remaining three for someone else to use. If you need butter that bad, wouldn’t the whole box be better to steal, or is one deemed okay but two or more somehow wrong? Do thieves have a code of ethics to follow to justify their actions?

One can of soda from a six pack. Okay, maybe you were thirsty and you said, I don’t want to steal a whole 6 pack, that would be wrong, but who would miss one can of soda? So at the end of the day, the shelf is littered with 5 packs of soda when, had these thieves put a little more thought and effort into their craft, they would have seen the same exact product in the nearby cooler, cold.

Chris Beckett via Flickr

I should mention here one of my favorite of the ‘take one piece from a package and leave the rest’. A slice of bread. One piece of bread, not even enough to make a sandwich or a grilled cheese, and before you ask, yes, I have seen a piece or two of cheese stolen, maybe by the same person, who knows?

I cant forget the 4 hot dogs from a package of 8. At least in this case, they just cut the package and left them in their carry case, who knows, loose hot dogs in one’s pocket somehow seemed wrong to them, I guess.

Ice cream sandwiches and frozen pizzas. Now stealing these required some thought and time on their part, because the items were from the freezer and would melt soon if you took too long. So what is the best way to transport a cold item out of the store? Apparently the answer is put said item down the front of your pants and walk out the store, emulating John Cleese’s role as the minister of silly walks. I remember a time when a security guard threatened to reach down and grab the ice cream but then decided it wasn’t worth the effort. If you are that hungry for a Klondike bar, so much so that you are willing to stick it down the front of your pants, inside your underwear, then maybe you earned that treat. (There is an old commercial here that says what would you do for a Klondike bar, and apparently the answer to that person was put it in my underwear so that it touches my groin and then eat it later).

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I cant forget, since we are on the category of frozen things taken, a bag of wings where the contents were taken from the bag and the box and carried away. Why not keep them in the bag instead of mixing them with pocket lint or whatever is living in the bottom of your purse?

Then there are those who take bites, indeed how can a simple bite hurt anyone? A bite out of a cupcake, a cookie, a donut, a muffin. A bite out of a candy bar, leaving the rest on the shelf, not wanting to be too greedy. The highlight in this category has to be the person who bit into the candy, package and all, and then decided that maybe this was not the best idea and left it all for me to find, as if this somehow wasn’t as bad as taking and swallowing that stolen bite.

Thieves, I have seen them all, and sadly for everything that I have mentioned seeing, there must be a 100 stories of things I haven’t seen, at least not yet. Well there is always tomorrow.

Cover image courtesy of Aodhagán O’Flaherty via Flickr

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