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Common Shoplifting Targets

Interviewer: What kinds of stores get shoplifted from most often? Which ones have surveillance?

Sam Sachs: The big department stores almost all have video surveillance. Name any of the top department stores – they have video surveillance. The smaller stores tend to have less surveillance. Jewelry stores usually have pretty good surveillance. In some of the discount chains, they may just have people that are walking on ceiling catwalks or observing or they have people in plain clothes that are pretending they’re shoppers watching a bunch of people.

It’s not uncommon. Some will shoplift and come back to the same store over and over again. They’ll say, “Oh, you know that 40-ish woman with the short blonde hair that comes in here every once in a while? We think she’s a shoplifter.” The person will go back over and over again. Or, “You know that guy with the scraggly beard that’s always wearing work clothes when he comes in here? We think he took some stuff out of the tool department.”

It’s not uncommon that I represent someone and they’ll say, “Hey, listen, this is not the first time. We suspect this person has shoplifted five or six times.”

Interviewer: What are some of the most common items that get shoplifted?

Sam Sachs: Articles of clothing and costume jewelry are common. I’ve seen everything from shoes and toys to lotions and stuff that’s taken out of the toiletries aisle. I can’t say anything in particular, obviously. For some things, they try and conceal them. They’ll throw them in a shopping cart, put a coat over it, or slip it in a pocket.

I remember one guy that I defended early on in my career, back in the days when cartons of cigarettes were openly available in supermarkets. He went into the store wearing overalls and he put 13 cartons of cigarettes in his overalls.  He got arrested.

I represented another guy years ago, many, many years ago, for whom it actually was a business. As I said, sometimes shoplifters are people that try and make a living at it. They caught him. He was wearing a windbreaker that was very big and he actually had a list of music CDs that he was stealing to order, and when he thought no one was looking, he’d throw them in the windbreaker. They caught him with the list and a windbreaker full of CDs. I thought he was particularly disingenuous.