The Creative Way a Shoe Store Manager Stops a Shoplifter Headed Out the Door in Stolen Shoes: "Are Those Shoes Comfortable?"
I would have loved to seen something like this happen in the handbag department but it never did...so many times we had old handbags traded out for new ones with the thieves leaving their old bags behind hanging on the rack with the paper stuffing from the new one.
I'm a manager in a national specialty retail chain.
As in all retail, shoplifting in our store really cranks up around the Holidays. Our company has a "do not chase" policy concerning shoplifters, but we are encouraged to confront them inside the store - albeit in a non-accusing way. As a manager, I get most of the calls when an associate observes a shoplifter.
In today's incident, one of the associates lets me know over the radio that they observed a "customer" put on a pair of new shoes and hide their old ones beneath the display rack.
I follow him as he walks towards the door, heading towards our "IN" door, which bypasses the register. I'll be "Me" and the dirty thief will be "DT":
Me: "Are those shoes comfortable? I've been thinking about purchasing a pair for my wife" (I notice that they are actually a pair of women's shoes)
DT: "Oh... I... Uh... I'm just trying them on to see if I like them."
Me: "Uh huh, but those [name brand shoes] that you came in with are also very comfortable. Which ones do you like better?"
(At this point he begins walking back towards the shoes)
Me: "Well SOMEONE ripped the tag off, so I'm not sure, but we will find out for you!"
(Now he is "searching" for his old shoes.)
DT: "I thought I left my shoes right here somewhere....."
Me: "Oh there they are, hidden under this rack. How odd. Oh my, look at that! The tag for those new shoes is right here under your old ones. Those shoes are $49.99"
(He puts his old shoes on without a word, then begins shuffling his way back out of the store)
DT: "I'll think about it, and I'll be back"
Me: "Ok, well next time don't try to switch them on us, OK?"
DT: (Aghast) "I'd never do that!"
(At this point he is almost to the door, and I catch sight of one of our leather belts hanging down below his sweater. What's weird is that it is not run through his belt loops. It's just hanging there around his waist.)
Me: "Oh, and can I have that belt too? I'll put it at the register for you."
DT: (smiling as he removes the belt and hands it to me) "Man, you're pretty sharp, aren't you?"
Me: "I don't even know what to say. If I see you in here again, I'm calling the police. You are no longer welcome in here or any of our stores."
DT: (starts an excuse) "Well, you know, I'm just trying - "
Me: (cuts him off) "I don't need to know your excuses. I just need you to know that if you're in here again, you'll be arrested for trespassing."
Goddamn I hate thieves.