Picture yourself on a typical day going into a store to pick up a few things. Walking by the magazines you see the latest People magazine, or a great new shade of lipstick in cosmetics, or cute little egg timer for the kitchen. Not something you originally went into the store for but wouldn’t it be great to pick those up too? In fact, even better, to get them for free! Well, if you just inconspicuously slide them into your tote bag then, voila, they’re yours at no additional cost right? Nothing could be further from the truth and, sadly, until you get caught, that is a realization that never really hits you. Sure, you figure there’s a chance, but you do it so discretely and you hardly look like the “shoplifting type” – who’s going to even notice? Well, I was one of those people and I did get caught. In May I went into Superstore and, ooh lookie, Reba’s on the front of First magazine, no $2.99 for me. And why not pick up a nice Burt’s Bees travel pack, some neat things in there. I went through the checkout with my lettuce and vinegar and proceeded to walk out with my additional “freebies” tucked in my purse. “Excuse me ma’am…” as soon as I saw him and one of the supervisors out front I knew my worst nightmare just became a reality.
I am not some teenager looking for kicks or destitute homeless person who just needed something to get me by, I am a middle aged woman, good income, average home life who should have known better.
I hope that by writing this people take a moment to check themselves before considering taking something and not paying for it. The cost could be more than you could imagine. For myself, I still beat myself up over the shame and embarrassment of it all.
Sitting in the cold room waiting for the police to show up, and watching employee after employee – many of which whom I’d had friendly conversations with in the past – walk by the door, looking in and knowing – and now, every time they see me – knowing. I can only say how grateful I am to the compassionate, kind people at Superstore. I firmly believe, had it not been for the kindness of the LP officer speaking for me with the attending police officer, I most surely would have had the even worse stigma of a permanent record of a charge and maybe even conviction. And this was my first time getting caught, so don’t think that will get you out of anything. You’ll ruin your reputation with your family; have a permanent record that will follow you around for the rest of your life and the loss of trust from everyone around you. Is that worth that $10 of tchotchkes to you? I would hope not.
I am grateful every day that I was given this wakeup call. While I feel immense remorse I am so fortunate that when I did get caught it was by kind, sensitive people willing to give me another chance so, while the consequences were harsh, they weren’t nearly as bad as what they could have been.
I got a warning, but when I think about what I was willing to throw away because I never thought beyond walking out of the store with my free “goodies”, I can’t believe my stupidity and blatant disregard for the honest and moral standards that a decent person should have regard for.
As I said before, I hope this acts as some deterrent and realization that, at some point,
you will get caught. In fact, those cameras see a lot more than what you think. A lot of money is spent on loss prevention just for people who “casually” slip that pack of gum in their pocket. In fact so sophisticated the LP officer informed me they can zoom right into a person’s purse to see it’s contents. You’re not getting away with anything – your number will come up.
As a side note, I would also like to express my extreme gratitude to even the two supervising women who, I’m guessing, due to rules over females being detained, had to attend. The supervisor who had to stay at the door while waiting for the police was so nice and kind and didn’t treat me like a degenerate or low life at all.
There was also the second supervisor and head cashier Sharon (again, someone I’d seen and spoken with in the store on previous occasions and now have to face) who had to be outside when the LP officer approached me.
I went in the next day to speak with her so I could apologize and express my extreme remorse and immense gratitude for giving me the “smack upside the head” that I needed to set me straight. I couldn’t believe her compassion and warmth towards me – me! Now a “shoplifter” and, what most people now regard, to be an untrustworthy person.
I want to thank you both and I hope I can prove myself to be someone that is upstanding and honest from this point forward.
So if you’ve shoplifted in the past and not gotten caught consider yourself to have dodged a bullet and think about it next time. It isn’t something you want to throw your reputation or even your life down the toilet for.
G.D. Duncan (Editor’s note: We’ve made an exception to our policy that we do not print anonymous or unsigned letters and allowed the above writer to use a pseudonym, as we feel the topic is important and the writer could face repercussions if her real name was revealed.)