HERE I COME TO SAVE THE DAY...OH, WAIT, THAT WAS MIGHTY MOUSE...
I had my cape on yesterday. It is invisible to anyone but me. It only comes out when I need to be a "crimefighter" and do good for the world. That happened yesterday.
Most who know me know that I have worked for a major book retailer (Bunns and Noodle*Thanks Alison Bechdel) for the past eleven years. You also know that I amnot shy nor easily intimidated. That came in real handy yesterday.
We had a shoplifter who had taken the music department for hundreds of dollars of boxed sets of music before we caught him. He had not left the store at that time, but he was banned from the mall and the store. Those of us in the music department are constantly on the lookout for him.
Yesterday, as I was finishing a transaction with a customer, he came sauntering in, laying his shopping bag on the counter so that I could see that he wasn't stealing anything and headed over to the box sets. It was extremely busy in the store and I was the only one in the department at the time. I gave a call over the intercom for a manager, but they didn't know it was for something as important as this and they were busy, so no one came right away.
I finished the transaction with my customer and came from behind the counter and walked up to the man as he was stuffing something down the back of his pants. I stopped right in front of him, held my hand out and asked him for what he was stealing.
I suppose now is the time I should point out that this man was 6'2", 250 lbs. and 35 years old. I am 5'6", 200 lbs. and 61 years old. And, I am no one to be messed with. I, after all, grew up on the streets of LA and can hold my own with anyone.
He looked at me and mumbled something that I didn't understand and just stood there. I reached around behind him and pounded on the boxed set he had down the back of his pants, looked back up into his face with my hand outstretched and demanded that he give me what he was stealing. I guess he figured he wasn't going to get past me, so he reluctantly reached behind his back and pulled out a $60 box set of Broadway musical songs. I took it from him and headed back behind the counter and along the way grabbed his shopping bag from the counter.
That got a reaction out of him. "Give me my bag, I've only got magazines in there and I paid for them." Right. I told him there was probably more stolen merchandise in the bag and wanted to see. Well, this is when good thinking took over from bravado and when he grabbed the bag from my hand I just let him take it. He headed out of the store with me directly behind him.
Other staff then noticed what was happening, but by this time he was out the front door. I explained to the manager what had happened and got the response that I probably shouldn't have done that (in retrospect, there might be a little bit of truth in that) and my safety was the most important thing. I explained that I truly felt that I was in charge of the situation and at any time that I had felt uncomfortable, I would have backed down and did.
I wish I had a video of the whole thing...
Labels: crime fighting