Another Grocery Store Tale-"Et tu, Brute!"

My loss prevention department had two of these security systems installed by my store's two front doors.

I used to manage a grocery store in Hertford, North Carolina from 1992-1994. During this time it became apparent that the store had a serious shoplifting issue. So after many months of begging for some help to stop this problem, the company's lost prevention department finally agreed to install an anti-theft system in my store.

On installation day, two guys showed up and installed a security sensor device(see photo to right) by the entrance and exit doors. They then handed me two huge boxes of magnetic stickers...and said "Your system is active....all you have to do now is tag your high theft items and if anybody tries to steal the items the scanner will go off as they walk through the sensors." The whole process only took them about two hours to set up. It was going to take me a considerable more time than that to tag all the high theft items.

So for the rest of the day and evening, my store got to tag thousands of items with a magnetic piece of tape. After the first hour, this process was no longer any fun. I am providing a list of some of the high theft items we had to tag the rest of the day and from that day forward whenever new stock came into the store.

Did you know razor blades are one of the most popular items to steal?

1. All razor blades....the more expensive the greater chance they will get stolen.

2. All batteries.....why pay for them when you can just steal them

3. Cheap wine.... amazingly the better wine never seemed to get stolen....but items like Wild Irish Rose and Mad Dog 20/20....watch out

4. Any 100 count medicine like Tylenol, Advil and Excedrin...

5. Cigarettes.....amazingly back in the 1990s we used to keep single pack cigarettes on a big rack by the registers

6. Beer....especially the 24 pack suitcases.....you would not believe how people would just walk right out the door with a suitcase of beer without a care in the world

7. Pregnancy tests....I never could figure out why so many..... "maybe mommies" and "maybe daddies" would steal this item

8. Tenderloin/Delmonico steaks...well if you are going to steal, you might as well get a good steak....cube steak was not a high theft item

9. Baby Formula.....one case(24 cans) of baby formula is worth over $100 ....evidently a person would steal a case and sell the cans for one dollar each

10. Condoms....I always wondered why the people stealing the pregnancy tests did not just steal the condoms in the first place

Not sure if it is the pretty colors...but MadDog 20 20 is a very popular item to steal.

Around 8:30 that night my babysitter dropped off my five year old son(Bryan) at the store. The store closed at 9:00 each night and sometimes the sitter would have to bring him to the store. So after spending hours of playing with the magnetic stickers, I was playing around with Bryan. I took one of the security magnetic stickers and patted him on the back. So Bryan was walking around the store with a security sticker on his back. As we approached the front, I asked Bryan to walk through one the sensors by the front door....knowing that the sticker on his back would trigger the sensor. Bryan got very concerned, and refused to walk through the sensor. At first I was trying to tell him that nothing would happen and that it was safe. But he still refused to walk through the sensor. So then I was trying to convince him ....it will be funny....but he still refused. Finally I started to make him walk through the sensor.....when......he started crying.....and then to my shock and dismay...... the little punk pulled out a roll of lifesavers from his jacket.....he said "I'm sorry I'm sorry".... he was trying to steal a roll of LifeSavers from my store. "Et tu, Brute!"

Lifesavers: Not usually a high theft item....unless you are a 5 year old boy.

Wow...I would have never guessed the first shoplifter our new anti-theft system would catch, would be my five year old son. So when the cops came to pick him up.......just kidding........Needless to say, Bryan was punished for his behavior. Luckily Bryan stopped his life of crime that night. Bryan is now 24, married, serving our country and has a 5 year old daughter. The next day the Director of Loss Prevention called. He asked how the system was working and if we had caught anybody.....when I told him that "So far we have only caught my son"...he replied "Well.... we at least know it works"

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Comments 65 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

Hahahahahaha!! Totally awesome, funny, UP and tweeted!! Thanks I needed that!!


Scotty! 5 years ago

I would never betray my father like my brother did!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

A very funny story. Thank your son for serving our country. Thank you for this reading pleasure. :D


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

Poor kid. Sometimes you just need that roll of Lifesavers. : )

Voted up! Really cute!


KTCat94 5 years ago

HAHAHAHAHA, Bryan! Did you even know there was a sticker on your back? Poor big brother!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thank you Sunshine.....I glad you were able to get a laugh from this hub....it is funny now, but when it happened....man was I mad....thanks for reading


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thank you Scotty...I appreciate that....I sure your brother did not know what he was doing

KTCAT94....he never knew it was a sticker until much later in his life


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thank you James, I appreciate you stopping by and commenting....I am sure my son will see your compliment about his service soon...as he is very active on hubpages....he is currently serving in Alaska for the Air Force....and he loves his internet


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Jeannieinabottle.....yes I guess sometimes the difference between being happy and sad....a roll of Lifesavers...thanks for reading my little story


YankeesRule profile image

YankeesRule 5 years ago

Now that is a very funny story. So did you start to mark the livesavers next? Thanks for sharing.


hinton1966 profile image

hinton1966 5 years ago

When I was reading your story, and when it said ""when I the cops came to pick him up", I was like damn, That is a pretty hardcore manager, glad to see you were only joking. A very funny hub that actually made me laugh out loud. Voted up.


BERN1960 5 years ago

HEY, THAT WAS A GREAT STORY - I REMEMBER IT WELL. IT WAS ACTUALLY FUNNY TO READ IT AGAIN -BROUGHT BACK MEMORIES. BEAUTIFUL...


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Great story! I really enjoyed this one. One of my kids stole from a store and they were made to go back, confess, and then pay for it. It never happened again.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey YankeesRule....nope we did not start tagging all the lifesavers....actually the whole system of the store tagging the items became the downfall of the system....no extra labor to spend the time to do it.....now....the tag comes with the product....but back then the two sensor devices eventually became only a decoy


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey hinton. I was not that hardcore...that I would send my 5 year old to kiddy jail...so I broke one of that company's major rules....Never ever let a shoplifter go with a warning....always under no circumstance call the police...thanks for reading


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for reading BERN1960...I find it hard to believe that the lifesaver incident happened almost 20 years ago.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey WillStarr....thanks for the compliment, I am glad you enjoyed the story....in my years in the grocery store business.....having a parent bring back a kid to confess....happened about once a month.....but wow when it is your kid....its a whole new ballgame


Jeanastra 5 years ago

Keep 'em comin'! I love these stories! Regarding razor blades, where I live they keep them in these weird, plastic lock boxes that require assistance from a clerk to obtain. The condoms aren't locked up though. LOL!!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thank you Jeanastra for the compliment. In my area.....the condoms that are not behind the customer service desk.....have the same plastic lock box you described. Thanks for reading.


Apple 5 years ago

You should have thrown the little punk in jail, lol.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

Ha, ha, so funny. I am reading so many funny hubs today and enjoyed this one. Just talking to a friend who works at a local grocery store. People steal steaks and take them to a nearby bar (3 shops way) to sell.


Fay Paxton 5 years ago

I absolutely love these stories. Cogerson, you are soooo funny and a laugh was just what I needed. Just yesterday I was in the grocery store with my 2 year-old grandson. At some point I turned around and he was eating powdered donuts. He had powdered sugar in his nose, eyelashes, ears, and all over his face. Kids...gotta love 'em.

voted up/funny and awesome


BryRog57 profile image

BryRog57 5 years ago

Well since this hub has been released, I the young 5 year old who wanted a lifesaver, have been preparing my defense as the victim of this story. So here goes. He should have just bought me the lifesavers when I asked.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Apple......if he was 6 ....his butt would have been in jail....lol


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

I am glad you liked the story Dolores....there is a huge black market out there for stolen items that makes millions of dollars from shoplifted items....thanks for stopping by


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Good morning Fay, I am glad my story gave you a laugh.....you have to watch those 2 year olds...they have very fast hands...lol. Thanks for the compliment and the vote up.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Sorry BryRog57.....your defense did not work....you went to trial...you were convicted.....and you served your time....sorry we can not expunge your record.....and you should keep your eye on that cute 3 year old you have...especially when you say she can not buy something from the store....thanks for stopping by and offering your side of things.


BERN1960 5 years ago

When I was growing up in Montreal, Canada, there were kids saying "I DARE YOU" in the early years. I was always one to take a DARE. Someone dared me to steel a 5 cent pencil which id did. I HAVE FELT TERRIBLE EVER SINCE THAT TIME - I WAS AFRAID TO TAKE IT BACK. WHEN I WAS OLDER I WAS IN A NIGHT CLUB WITH MY BROTHER AND HIS WIFE AND JOHNNY RAY WAS SINGING IN THE CLUB AND MY BROTHER DARED ME TO ASK HIM TO DANCE - GUESS WHAT - I DID AND HE TOLD ME HE COULD NOT DANCE WITH THE CUSTOMERS. I DID GET HIS AUTOGRAPH. JOHNNY RAY WAS A SINGER IN THE FIFTIES AND SIXTIES...


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Bern1960.....it is never too late to fix a wrong....you could mail the place you "borrowed" the pencil from an entire pack of pencils....this way you would be paying them back with interest....and maybe that will ease your guilt....lol. I am not familiar with Johnny Ray....but the power of the internet...I will know more about him soon. Thanks for the stories.


BERN1960 5 years ago

I would be very surprised to hear that the store is still in business as that was many many years ago. It was a local store - not a chain like today but thanks for the suggestion Cogerson...WAITING FOR THE NEXT GROCERY STORE STORY.


KellyE1967 profile image

KellyE1967 5 years ago

Freaking hilarious story. I laughed out loud. Voted funny.


ShaunBroncoMan profile image

ShaunBroncoMan 5 years ago

I imagine that you thought your eyes were playing tricks on you when he pulled the candy out. Very funny story. Nice grocery store tales you spin.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Bern1960.....it is no longer open...the last time I went through Hertford it was an empty store with a For Lease sign hanging in the window.....that was a couple years ago....so maybe another business is there now


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Kelly.....I am glad you liked the story and thought it was funny.

Hey Shaun....yep that was pretty how I felt when he pulled it out....thanks for the compliment


YankeesRule profile image

YankeesRule 5 years ago

Awesome story, lots of funny little lines you have put in this story. Voted up and funny.


xano 5 years ago

Nice story with a very funny but sad ending.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for stopping by Yankees Rule....glad you liked some of the little bits of sarcasm that are in the story

Thanks for the compliment xano.


Ddraigcoch profile image

Ddraigcoch 5 years ago from UK

This is a very funny story. It is also bitter sweet as in Britain as likely your end, it has been known that people use kids to steal because they do not get prosecuted under 10 years old here.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for the compliment Ddraigcoch....that is a shame that they would use under 10 kids that way...thanks for reading my story


Multiman 5 years ago

Very funny! Voted Up. My life of crime at age 7 was stopped by my mother she took a switch, a branch from a bush, and swatted me with it all the way back to the store where she made me pay for the candy bar and explain that I had stolen it. I wa in tears. Never even considered shop lifting after that.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Multiman thanks for the compliment.....I am glad your life of crime ended at the age of 7, my son never stole again....at least according to him....lol....thanks for reading my story


Sun-Girl profile image

Sun-Girl 5 years ago from Nigeria

Lovely and well packaged article which i enjoyed reading from.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for the compliment Sun-Girl....I am glad you liked my hopefully funny grocery hub


Guest 5 years ago

Very well done, I liked this story. It is sad but it reminded me of an incident with my son a very long time ago.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia Author

Thank you guest....well hopefully your child did the same as my child and did not repeat the action...thanks for reading...


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

That's a cute story about your little one and his short young life of crime, Cogerson. I bet that made a lifetime impression on the little guy. I worked at a grocery store centuries ago where we had the old National Cash registers with the tall push buttons, ka ching. My left bicep was enlarged from scooting all the groceries past on the conveyor belt. We still had brown grocery bags and there was a cigarette machine at the front of the store that we had to watch after to keep minors from using it. Milk was 61 cents a half gallon, eggs were 33 cents. Oh my...


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey PegCole17....glad you liked my story....it is a family story that gets told everytime he(the shoplifter) is in town....he currently lives 5000 miles away in Alaska.

I remember those types of registers.....we used them when I first started in the grocery business.....they were not fun to run....plus we had to put price stickers on all the items.....price changes were the worst part of the job.

I think the price of eggs and milk is about 6 times that amount today.....thanks for the visit.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

I don't get why people stealing pregnancy tests don't steal condoms first but such is the logic of those of us who aren't criminally minded. I'm sure your son is very glad he got caught stealing lifesavers now looking back on things. Great hub!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I could just see this whole scenerio! Glad you caught the criminal!!! How cute and sweet!!!

I voted this UP, etc.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Alecia....condoms are another high theft item....so they are actually stealing both of them....I think maybe the days of pregnancy test theft is coming to an end....as I have started seeing pregnancy test make it to the Dollar Trees of the world.

As for Bryan and his getting caught....I never told him about the sticker being on his back....so I think he grew up thinking everything has a security tag....but I am proud to say he is a proud member of the armed forces...happily married and has a 5 year old himself.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Mary615....glad you liked one of my family's favorite stories...seems my son the shoplifter story gets told at least once a year....and now it is out on the world wide web for everybody to see...thanks for the votes and the comment.


Julie Stuart profile image

Julie Stuart 4 years ago from Midwest

Excellent writing. You will be my role model as I begin restarting my writing career.


CrisSp profile image

CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

I started so seriously reading this and ended up with a good chuckle. Excellent! Voted up and definitely sharing for those who have missed it. What an enjoyable read!


kimberlie33 profile image

kimberlie33 4 years ago from Brooklyn, NY

Amazing! Very interesting what a person is willing to steal these days.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Julie Stuart.....thanks for such kind words and I wish you luck on your restarting your writing career.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey CrisSp.....thanks for checking out the story of my 5 year old the shoplifter. I appreciate the votes up and for sharing the hub. Glad it gave you a chuckle.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey kimberlie33....thanks for the visit and for the nice compliment..over the years I was in grocery retail I saw some crazy stuff get stolen....for example a pharmacist that was making 125K a year got fired for stealing a .25 cent pack of crackers, a customer that went to jail for eating candy out of the bulk bins, a customer stealing packs and packs of crazy glue, and the list goes on and on....people sometimes have no common sense about them.


Southernmapart 4 years ago

Great, you stopped the kid from stealing the Life Savers. Did the new system work to keep down the theft of of the high-loss items?

Glad you have pictures of the MD bottles. I always thought those initials were for Mogan David. Anyway, those bottles are flatter than other wine bottles and don't show a bulge. Bottle shape is the reason a lot of people buy - easy to carry. Nice article.


cbpoet profile image

cbpoet 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

Did you notice any particular age group stealing things? MD 20/20 seems like something teens or young adults would take. Definitely someone lacking adequate taste buds.


TattooKitty profile image

TattooKitty 4 years ago from Hawaii

Too funny!! I gotta admit though, Lifesavers are pretty darn delicious!!

Thanks for sharing...your hub put a smile on my face!


eusaphzae profile image

eusaphzae 4 years ago from United Arab Emirates

Wallah very nice


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Southernmapart....thanks for the visit....you are correct the MD 20/20 bottles were very flat and easy to hide.....we always joked that they were drinking kool-aid paint thinner.

The system never really caught many people....part of the company policy was...if they got out the door ...you could not follow them.....and since the sensors were only 5 to 8 feet away from the exit doors....the few times the alarms went off.....they were safely outside the store....but I am sure they detered many people from trying to steal.....like how locks keep honest people honest.

Thanks for the comment.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey cbpoet.....actually the younger people that shopped in the store did not go for the Mad Dog....but the older people could not keep their hands off it. I never drink it....but despite the pretty colors I heard it was some pretty horrible tasting stuff. Thanks for stopping by.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey TattooKitty....my son agrees with you....LifeSavers are delicious and worth any risk to secure them.....lol. Glad my hub brought a smile....I appreciate the visit and the comment.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey eusaphzae ...thanks for the visit and the comment.

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