A few observations from a “veteran” stealer
Anyways, so… I put the word "veteran" in parenthesis because I feel like it's a weird term to use and may, in my case, be untrue.. So I'll follow it up with some quick backstory (i'm trying to make this brief) so i'm 25 years old… and I know, in theory, that is super young… and I admit, I am. but I've been stealing here and there for the better part of 8 years.. and let me say first… it is NOT a habit. can't emphasize that better. Trust me, in my case, if it was a habit, I'd probably be in jail. Not because of slopinness, but because the law of averages (if you steal constantly you increase your chances of getting caught.
WARNING: THIS ENDED UP BEING AN EXTREMELY LONG POST. i TRIED TO KEEP IT ORGANIZED, BUT IT BECAME TOO LONG TO PROPERLY ORGANIZE. IF YOU WANT TO SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM FOR THE 'TL;DR I'LL TRY TO SUM IT UP IN A PARAGRAPH OR TWO. THERE ARE A LOT OF PERSONAL ACCOUNTS TO MY STEALING EXPERIENCE IN THIS POST. BY TELLING MY PERSONAL ACCOUNTS, I HOPE IT CAN SOMEHOW DEMONSTRATE WHAT I'VE LEARNED THROUGHOUT MY EXPERIENCE. MY APOLOGIES IF I GO OFF TOPIC.
I wanted to put a TL;DR warning for this next paragraph, its just a backstory into my carhopping past skip to the next one for the heart of what i mean to say in this post) Anyways, I've been poor most of my adult life. and Unfortunately, I've been riddled with drug habits for most of my adult life also. Thankfully, i never TRULY let my drug habits resort me to stealing constantly (i've always been functioning… held a 9-5 job etc.) but with drug habits comes no money so I have often found myself in weird jams where i DID have to steal to get small things. I had a huge habit of car hopping when I became introduced to benzos (benzos make me steal recklessly) and honestly, i think even on benzos i've always been extremely good at stealing, it's just my inhibitions were lowered so I did it car-hopping exclusively when barred out on xanax.. I did that for years, and eventually I got caught ONCE…. ONCE (im sorry i didn't want to make this post about car hopping but i do want to go a tad into detail about this subject) but the reason I was caught that one time was because I was extremely barred out (proably on 15+ mg of xanax) and whilst breaking into cars I dropped my phone, and keys into a car i had broken into.. because of this, when I was done carhopping in that particular development.. I got to my car with no keys or phone, and couldn't drive my car.. had to walk home.. woke up with no memory without keys or a phone, and i guess a lot of the victims in that neighborhood called the cops on that night and that found an inconspicuous car parked outside of the neighborhood with about 20 pairs of sunglasses in and it lead the cops to me.. the cop brought me into the station (i was still barred out) and he asked me if i stole from the cars, i said no (barred out all non chalant) and he said "ok..well your face was recorded on dashcam then i WILL charge you criminally for breaking into all those cars" and I confessed.. to this day, i still wonder if that was a cop tactic.. because i never got proof my face was on dashcam, but anyway, i ended up meeting up personally with the cop a week later to return one of the gym bags i don't remember stealing and he let me off scott free… I thank that cop to THIS FREAKING DAY for being so cool, man. like, idk sometimes admittedly i do tend to hate cops but that cop, in theory, could have wrecked my life but he told my dad "he seems like a good kid who just so happens to have taken some bad drugs" which was true, it was xanax.. but i don't blame the drug. i blame myself. but i'll never forget that cops name, and i WILL tell ya that that cop has positively changed my life in a lot of ways.. like, i seriously do not steal from cars anymore… if i'm desperate, i will steal from a franchise like wal mart or whatever, but FUCK them….
anyways, that carhopping story wasn't the reason i made this post. I wanted to make this post more-so for anyone who's considering shoplifting, or knows shoplifting will be in their inevitable future. My only advice to you would be is, remember that it's truly all a mind game. it's "jedi mind tricks" in a way…. like, fear and paranoia WILL give you away.. the double edged sword part of that spectrum is that fear is ALSO what keeps you outta trouble, for the most part. so it's tricky… but, if you're going to shoplift… PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do some homework and KNOW what you're going into the place to steal and consider it a mission that's being, like, timed. This has always been my philosophy of stealing. After I explain what i'm about to say i'll give you a personal example of a time someone whom i personally knew failed to follow this policy and got themselves caught, and charged… So, you've got to think of things logistically (i recently learned the term logistics it means "the detailed coordination of a complex operation involving many people, facilities, or supplies" so, in a way, you have to think about the place your going to think of's security department (if they have one, sometimes a "good Samaritan" either employed by the place or a customer might detain you in a desperate attempt to stop you.. anyways, that doesn't matter. But, if you timed yourself walking into a store knowing exactly what it is and where it is that you're trying to steal it would probably clock at like under 30 seconds to a minute.. Now, you have to think, in the time it takes to walk in, grab that, and walk out.. how could it be possible for security to respond? i mean, jesus, it's so unlikely that it's almost funny.. I'm not speaking for merchandise that has security locks on it (whatever those things are that make the alarm go off) to be honest,i'm not experienced in stealing shit like that because it seems like a really stupid way to get caught and to get on paper for theft (sorry, i'm not experienced in that regard) but, unless someone sees you put something into your pockets or bag, then walking in, grabbing it, getting it to a place where eyes aren't on you to pocket it, and walking out all in one subtle uninterrupted motion, is a surefire way of getting what it is that you need. When I say "subtle uninterruped motion" i try to put emphasis on that because I feel like stopping and standing and looking around is ultra sketchy and a good way to draw attention to yourself and also it's a good way to make your own self paranoid if someone does happen to look at you. Remember, keeping at normal walking pace towards one destination makes you look like any other shopper. Anything else, like stopping.. looking at your phone.. looking around.. lingering around a certain part of the store might make people notice you. Even if they don't suspect you're stealing (which they probably don't) you might THINK they are which could lead to your nerves going berserk and you either bailing on the steal (which is never a bad plan B) or worse, which is fucking up your process and getting yourself caught.
I read once during training for a job interview at a department store that when an employee makes eye contact with a customer who just recently walked in it eliminates the chance of that person stealing by like… 90% and holy shit is that probably true, isn't it??? think of times you walked in a store to be greeted or have an employee make eye contact with you or give you "the look" it certainly makes you want to bail out and not steal. Not me though. I've learned that this statistic, albeit probably true, is just some Jedi Mind Trick that most employees do out of pure courtesy and aren't suspecting you of potentially shoplifting.
I've made it a habit when I DO steal (which is rare these days) to walk in confidently and look at every employee who so happens to be there when I walk in. When I do this, I either smile at them (depending on whether they look nice or not) or just quickly make eye contact with them and look away distracted as if i'm thinking about what i'm going to buy. Sometimes I don't look at them at all (depending on how I'm feeling) but I normally try to. You have to remember, if they're at the entrance area of the store (or just employees in general) they're probably not security and they're probably focused on one thing… which is that their shift will be over in whatever amount of hours, and what they're eating that night, or whatever distraction. This goes for anybody at the store. Employees do not CARE as much as theft as you think they do. So, I feel like knowing this might allow you to walk in more confidantly and help with your ability to look non-chalant and blend in with the other shoppers. Now, my confidence walking into a store with an intent to steal varies depending on how i'm feeling that day, and how confident I am in general. Trust me.. When I'm in a depressed funk stealing is no easy task. My self esteem tends to be extremely low when I'm depressed and I have this general paranoia that people take one good look at me and think "he's a shoplifter" because i look down-and-out and my facial hair is scruffy and my clothes are dirty. It's usually during these times I try my hardest not to steal unless I really need to. and sometimes I surprise myself, and when i'm not feeling confident at all I can easily "put it on" when I walk into a store and steal something, so it truly depends.
but, that's the logistics and mind-set of it all… There are some EXTREME pros and cons to this knowledge/method. For the most part, if it comes down to "I really need to steal this one thing, i know where it is, i don't have money, and i seriously need it" I feel like it's seriously a bullet-proof method of stealing and getting away with the merchandise and your freedom. Trust me, I've done this so many times it's laughable, and i've repeated the process at the same place MULTIPLE times.. but that's when it gets tricky.. because in the past, I remember i would commonly steal OTC medication from a grocery story whilst under the influence of xanax on multiple occasions and I remember I always had a bad feeling having to shop for actual groceries at that stores when I was sober, and one time when I was shopping there sober after hitting the place maybe 5-10 times when intoxicated I noticed that when I was at the self-checkout isle some old redneck looking guy in a cheap shirt and tie was kind of lingering around the customer-service area (where i assume his office was) and he was kind of giving me this look.. I immediately realized, this MAY be the manager.. and he MAY recognize me from security footage.. I think he was the manager to be honest, I just got a weird vibe from the guy, i'd never seen him before, and he gave me a look and it was unusual. I got the hell outta there. I wasn't afraid in the slightest, but I did feel bad in a way.. I knew he couldn't legally do shit to me, but i did stop shopping there after that (with stealing comes guilt believe it or not)
TL;DR: from my experience, if you're going to go into a place and steal/shoplift try to make it as quick as possible. Know your destination, and what you're going to steal.. walk in confidently, grab it, pocket it, and walk out just as fast as you walked in. Logistically, you're likely to get away just purely in the sense that the reaction time of security to identify you and act on it and detain you is almost impossible. Also, having true confidence when you walk into a place and not being paranoid can easily determine whether your steal is a success or a failure. I know it's hard to hear someone advise "don't be paranoid, calm down, don't worry" and to absorb that information and take it to heart. it's not something easily taught, or learned for that matter. I try to give ya tips in this post about controlling your nerves, and remembering that the staff at whatever store you're stealing from doesn't care about stealing as much as you think they do. That's securities job, and sometimes security isn't as prepared as you think they are. You have to remember their job consists of sitting all day, and I worked security once and trust me watching netflix was the only thing I cared about. I can't simplify this information, so if you want to read my experiences please read the whole post.
- One thing I wanted to mention after that previous paragraph ^ was that my "know what you want, get in.. steal it, get out" method can be bulletproof and i'll give you an example of why I think that.. So, I used to date a girl (who actually kind of broke me into stealing) and she was an attractive female who stole pretty constantly.. She was actually pretty damn good at it, but she had some EXTREMELY faulty habits. and I think some of them she may have THOUGHT she was using to her advantage (being a pretty girl in all) but i think they ultimately and eventually turned against her.. So, she would go into stores and she would browse around makeup isles and such, and she would grab a little thing of like, eyeliner… look at it for a few seconds, and then she would walk to the next thing and while she was slowly doing that she'd drop the makeup into her purse. Now, I know that MAYBE some girls think that security isn't looking at them, but in my honest opinion I feel like women might steal the most just on the preface that they think they're not suspect and can get away with it, slyly. Especially makeup. You have to put yourself in securities shoes, and think that small little nuds-and-duds like makeup that CAN be easily stolen WILL be easily stolen (I worked security for years, and although I wasn't in the loss-prevention department and never worked at a store I feel like I can atleast think like someone who's job is to watch and observe) and, it's true, my ex-girlfriend didn't get caught that much, and when she DID get caught she always got out of it… but she did get caught stealing makeup once doing exactly what i said she did above ^ and when I found out the department security had her I remember texting her friend who was with her during the bust and saying "she's an idiot.. she got caught because she lingers around while she steals and got caught because of that stupidity" and I understand girls often steal this way but to me it just seems like a bad idea especially when there are security cameras everywhere (security cameras ARE everywhere.. and you should ALWAYS assume they are) and getting caught by some dickhead loss-prevention security guy, you gotta remember.. that's his job.. and catching people stealing is like an intoxicating high for him. it's a power move, in truth. I've been occasionally caught by department store managers when I was like 16 and stupid (before I got smart) and one thing I noticed is that when these guys catch you it gives their life/job purpose and it makes them feel on top of the world and if you can stroke their ego a little bit you might just get out of trouble. Anyways, next topic.
(i'm gonna leave this story at the bottom of the post bc it's irrelevant) So, I've gotten kind of off topic with this post, but the last paragraph I got into the territory of getting caught by security/loss-prevention and how the possibility of stroking their ego a little bit might help? here's the thing, I'm not too confident in my knowledge of whether this works or not, but I think it easily could if you're good at reading whoever it was that caught you. I've been in a few "caught" situations that all seriously differ. One time I caught caught stealing sushi at an up-and-coming small grocery store franchise… but I was in NYC and I feel like New York is double hard to steal from depending on how ya look at it. There are way more people, but you gotta remember there are way more thefts so being in a city with a lot of people could easily help OR hurt you. Anyways, I walked in, grabbed the sushi, and began to walk out.. this all happened within like 10 seconds. I ended up getting tackled. But my fault was, that it was like the 5th time I've stolen sushi from this place with the same method… and no joke.. I was a white kid in an extremely non white area. They made me as soon as I walked in. It's funny because racial minorities are often criticized for being charaterized/stereotyped (shit, for the life of me i can't remember the better word for when they look at you and immediately assume you're a criminal) but, being white, I got a taste of that kind of thing when I lived in a very urban non-white area (it truly does happen, you stick out like a sore thumb) but anyways a bunch of chinese guys ended up tackling me and pinned me against a wall… I had the sushi tucked in the wasteband of my jeans (its funny because at the time i had a mound of pubes and i'm sure they brushed all over the sushi) and they were like "WHERE'S THE FUCKIN SUSHI?" and I was semi-young and i kinda started trying to whip up fake tears (i was young and stupid) I told them "it's in my pants, i'm so sorry" and they patted me down (there were like 6 of them on me holding my arms and legs to the wall, truly a helpless feeling moment) and thought I had stolen more.. they let me go as soon as they got the sushi and one of the guys looked me right in the eyes and said "don't ever come back here" and TBH, i didn't.. he was a scary motherfucker when he said that.. so that was an instance where I really didn't have to do anything to get away, but I was in NYC and I feel like they don't get police involved in extremely small crimes that often..
(i'm sorry here's another rambling story of a time I got caught and what I learned from it, i'm kind of drifting from the plot with this post but maybe my random stories may help ya) (i might leave this story for the end of the post because it's irrelevant) -There was another time in NYC I walked into a Walgreens on my phone pretending to talk, made eye contact with a big african dude behind the counter, went and grabbed the redbull, and walked out still pretend talking on my phone. He noticed the redbull in my pocket right away.. and straight up ran out and like grabbed me by my shirt collar and tried physically DRAGGING me back into the store. I was aware that there are laws against security doing shit like this, so I felt safe. but I realized employees at stores might not KNOW this, so sometimes they'll do whatever they think is right. When he started dragging me (he was way bigger than me) I was with my friend and I remember saying to my friend during the struggle with the sec guard "…. DUDE, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING STANDING THERE, HIT THIS MOTHER FUCKER" i didn't REALLY want my friend to attack the dude but I didn't know what to do and the guy was kind of dragging me against my will. somehow during the struggle I got huge scratch marks on my neck and there was blood trickling down to my shirt, and i STILL have faint scars from this incident and it was like 5 years ago. What ended up happening was during the struggle, some cool as fuck kid around my age walked by and intervened and was like "woah woah woah, whats goin on here?" the guy told him i stole a redbull… and the kid pulled out like $10 to give to the guy to let me go. What a cool guy (i feel like i get saved a lot) but the manager lady eventually came out and asked me to come in and get my picture taken and my information so i would "never be allowed in again" and I declined, and pointed out that the african security guard drew blood from my neck. To be honest, the dude look scared, and the manager did too.. I was bleeding pretty bad, and i think he realized he acted impulsively.. I didn't care I just wanted to GTFO of there and even if it came to a courtcase I wouldn't try to get that guy charged, i mean I was stealing.
When it comes to getting caught, be it shoplifting or stealing in general, try to accept that you got caught, and that you're probably fucked. I try to go into each steal I do assuming there's a huge chance of getting caught just so i'm not extremely stressed out when I do get caught. Everytime I got caught I told the person who caught me simply that they "got me" and sometimes that's really all you CAN say because some people aren't willing to listen to your side of the story and immediately call the authorities, which at that point if the police get involved remember please don't say anything to incriminate yourself because the time the police are there is usually the time when it becomes an ordeal and you're handcuffed and arrested and if you're cuffed and arrested say NOTHING because there's no getting out of it, it's up for the courts to decide. I've had incidents with the police both because of stealing and pretty much every other possible criminal activity and some cops are truly awesome and some just aren't, and it's extremely hard to tell which is which because they all tend to act the same (in America at least) so by the time they're involved I usually say very little, adress them as officer (not sir) and act as genuine as I possibly can. I'm only 25, and I know that's young, but I feel like i've had a lot of odd run ins- with police since I was 16 because I used to be a huge marijuana smoker and weed busts happened constantly to me and my peers and the older I get the more I feel like just acting like yourself arround any officer (or any authority for that matter) is the best route to take. Acting super polite, or law abiding, or innocent is a pretty phoney thing to do and anytime you're not being your genuine self you come across as odd whether you know it or not. The same goes with being a dickhead and acting like the cop/authority is below you, it just doesn't work.
thanks for reading.