November 21, 2007

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Zilla Rocca was caught stealing once when he was five. He enjoys stealing. It’s as simple as that.

Before I was an international bloggin’ sensation, I put in three years working for the worst corporate retailer not named Wal-Mart. You know this, I talked about this earlier in my post on the top 5 most returned CDs from 2002-2004.

In the aforementioned post, I alluded to the business arrangement we, the severely underpaid staff, made with the sticky handed crackheads who would routinely come into the store with freshly boosted CD’s and DVD’s. We got first dibbs on such hits as Training Day and The Blueprint 2 on their release dates. Crack heads were paid $8 a pop to go buy some more “medicine.” And there was much rejoicing for all parties! Hurrah!

However, along with the discounted deals from smokers, there was a yin to the yang of weekly hook-ups from criminals: thieves who were trying to come up on OUR products. Were these thieves “outsider” crackheads who didn’t get the hood memo stating that we, the severely underpaid staff, were “insiders” who knew their techniques of blatant thievery? And were said “outsider” crackheads too stupid to understand that we BOUGHT stolen products daily, therefore making us immune to theft by basic logic? These uninformed smokers were truly biting the hand that would happily feed them!

I Don’t Think You Understand Joe Rogan, I Smoke Rocks

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This particular corporate retailer had the worst possible policy when it came to theft. Most stores have, at the very minimum, some overweight mope pulling down $10 an hour to stand near the door in their rent-a-cop suit while deterring theft and checking out women’s asses. Or some retailers opt for the “undercover” mopes who pretend to shop but basically just follow and grill the shit out of any black or white trash customers deemed “suspicious.” My corporate masters had us, the severely underpaid staff, act not only as customer service reps, maintenance, material handlers, inventory specialists, bank tellers but loss prevention hawks as well. How were we trained to handle the elusive, retail criminal mastermind? Watch a 10 minute video, of course.

Before I go any further, let me just say that some thieves are REALLY good. Some are elaborate: they scout the place out, they have multiple distractions going at the same time, they have a getaway car ready outside, they employ non-suspicious accomplices….just so they can steal 15 copies of Chocolate Factory. I applaud these jokers because an 18 year old in an oversized golf shirt trying to convince a 40 year old woman than Jennifer Lopez and J. Lo are the same person can’t possibly see the con unfolding from 3 different directions.

Now, our specific policy was to watch potential thieves, and if you SAW them putting something in their jacket, or heard them tear off the plastic to a DVD, you immediately ran and got a manager. If the thief managed to run out the door, it was out of our jurisdiction. We could not chase them nor physically manhandle thieves. We had to tattle on them first and then simply hope for the best. Oh, and call the police, who on average showed up 45 minutes to 3 hours later. We did have 1 camera pointed at the door but watching footage on that thing was like watching a Paris Hilton sex tape on a Verizon V cast phone underwater.

 

Let’s Just All Pretend That We Didn’t Watch This

 

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My store manager at the time was an Irish badass from South Philly who L-O-V-E-D confronting possible thieves. He strongarmed our daily crackheads for specific items, pissed off annoying customers who tried to scheme their way into shady returns, and generally got off on loss prevention as a whole. This manager came up with a brilliant anti-theft system: apply an additional white anti-theft sticker to the OUTSIDE of DVD’s, then wrap it up with clear masking tape.

Most DVD’s have the white anti-theft stickers attached on the inside. These stickers are de-activated on a magnetic pad at the register after purchase. Thieves will typically either line a shopping bag with layers of duct tape to deactivate the stickers (aka a “booster bag”) or just cut a slit on the opening side of a DVD, wiggle the disc out, and put the empty DVD box back on the shelf. He didn’t apply this strategy to CD’s because CD’s were locked into plastic shucks which already have the anti-theft device inside of them.

He also made every customer check their bag at the register. Our company didn’t like this because you could potentially be sued if, say, someone brought up a bag and then got it back later while claiming they bought a diamond ring and it was no longer in the bag that they brought into the store. Whatever. This corporate retailer was just too cheap to employ fat mopes to stand around in rent-a-cop clothes.

This manager also decided to only put 1 copy of potential hot items (read: rap/R&B CD’s and hood approved movies) on display racks and in the aisles. All the inventory was put behind the register, so at the very worst someone would steal 3 copies of State Property: The Movie compared to 22. This was such a simple premise and yet our corporate higher-ups preferred to have us, the underpaid staff, stalk and hawkeye anyone who picked up anything in the Rap/Gospel/R&B sections and/or the Action/Urban DVD section.

This made life for people like myself and Big O less stressful. Now, with an improved anti-theft policy, we would only have to focus on the painfully moronic thieves and go back to what we were good at: making fun of customers’ tastes, cracking on girls, telling jokes and watching DVD’s at the front counter.

Be sure to check back new week for part 2 of “Been Caught Stealing.”

Download:
MP3: Jane’s Addiction-“Been Caught Stealing”
MP3: King Tubby-“Stealing”

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