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10 Ways For You and I to Help Spot "Farm League" Shoplifters

Updated on August 22, 2014

"Farm league" shoplifter steals sunglasses

Hard facts:

Did you, as a consumer, realize that the crime of shoplifting nets thieves more than the biggest drug cartels in Mexico and the United States? True. And I did not make an error when I said that shoplifting is a “crime.” This is something that most Americans do not know and more pathetic, do not care.

“Hey, we do not want to be involved. Just let us shop for our goods and retire to our comfy home without any interaction with anyone else.” This is the thinking of most American consumers—even those who witness shoplifters in action. “None of my business,” these non-caring consumers say, but it is your business. When you gripe about paying a higher price for a weed eater this past week than you did three weeks ago, did you know that the price increase was most-likely due to the high-losses of shoplifting?

I’m one who gives the benefit of the doubt to anyone. I can understand if a shoplifter has never, even from youth up, been taught that shoplifting is a crime committed without a gun. And they have been misled by someone who is “fencing” the goods these uneducated thieves bring him, that shoplifting’s not hurting anyone. No murders committed. Just a few CD’s, DVD’s and some small power tools.”

Shoplifting leads to an arrest

Casual thieves are the most-dangerous thieves

Myths debunked

But contrary to the easy-belief that shoplifting isn’t costing anyone anything, it is costing—the store where the goods were lifted and the consumers who patronize the store. It’s not a matter of saying, “Awww, the store’s insurance will cover the losses. These big stores do not lose anything.” Today in 2014, only a complete-fool would think or say this stupid statement.

I know your next argument. Why do we have the police? Answer: Do you really expect our police departments to keep a couple of officers patrolling inside your favorite store on a full-time basis? If they did, and the crime rate went up, you would blame the police department out and out for concentrating on the “little stuff,” like shoplifting and letting meth dealers go free. Some people cannot be pleased.

So it’s up to us consumers to “step-up,” and do our part in helping to stop shoplifting. I did not say that we run out and buy a gun and a pair of sunglasses to look inconspicuous, but being able to spot a shoplifter when they are “on the prowl.”

It’s a tough job spotting a professional shoplifter, so I suggest that we start at the bottom and learn our way to the top when we start to spot shoplifters. Let’s begin by learning to spot the pro-shoplifter by spotting the less-than-average shoplifters.

I am sure that you have already guessed my title:

This thief slips on an extra pair of pants in the dressing room

Even celebrity, Winona Ryder was arrested for shoplifting

  1. Be observant – watch discreetly the people around you. The most-successful shoplifter is someone you see often in a store. Be observant of inconsistencies. A 90-pound elderly woman enters store wearing a tank-top, but leaves wearing a heavy winter coat. See the inconsistency?

  2. Watch for – groups of people who hang out in one department—near an item that is easy to get out of the store such as DVD’s or cell phones. And if you see a shoplifter actually placing an item in their shirt or in their pants, tell an employee where, whom and what you witnessed and let them handle it.

  3. If you see a person with glazed-eyes walking down the candy aisle tearing-open various candies and eating them in plain-sight of the store employees, please be responsible and report it to the store manager.

  4. If a man and woman pass you with a shopping cart hauling a baby cradle with NO baby, if you have the nerve, walk up and say, “What a pretty baby!” Then when you see there is no baby, walk away without any more involvement. Some thieves push this baby-less cradle all around the store and fill the cradle with small items that can be covered with a blanket.

  5. You are not breaking the law when you spot a suspicious person looking around if someone is following him, he is probably a shoplifter with no real experience. Follow him without being seen. Sooner or later he will make his move unless the store employees suspect his intent and follow him too.

  6. The shoe department is a great place to do your duty as a consumer and help fight shoplifting. Act as if you are shopping for shoes. Watch customers carefully. My wife, who put in 25 years at Walmart—mostly in the shoe department said many times a person would sit down and try on a pair of shoes. This is your first clue. No one tries on both shoes, but one. The thief will leave the shoes they were wearing and walk out of the store wearing a new pair of shoplifted shoes they have stolen under the noses of unsuspecting employees.

  7. If a guy walks around in a store and his jeans or pants pockets are first empty and not bringing attention to himself, but later both pockets are bulging, something is wrong and you need to talk to a store manager.

  8. The jewelry department is sometimes very vulnerable to shoplifters who work in two-person teams. One thief will keep the department employee busy acting like he or she is interested in a watch while the other team member who does not walk up to the department with the other team member is carefully taking the jewelry items that are sitting atop the counter. Keep your eyes open when you are out shopping.

  9. If a shopper acts like they are having a seizure, or slips and falls on catsup or some other item, they have already stolen from the store and put the items in their clothing. The store employees, manager included, are too concerned about being sued than they are about shoplifting. A pro-shoplifter knows all of the slick tricks.

  10. This is an easy one to spot. If you see a pair of men’s underwear (still in the pack), sticking in the cereal aisle behind the frosted flakes, tell a store employee because a thief has left the underwear there and will return later and get them when the “coast is clear.”

My personal opinion is this: “It is so sad that we as consumers also have to play store detective when we go to shop for our groceries or other merchandise.

Anne Gunderson, shoplifter. This is her mug shot


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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, Everyday Miracles,

      I enjoyed your comment. And I join you in the NOT loving to try on one shoe. I always thought that was a bit needless when we all wear two shoes.

      But the point is. My wife, during her career at Walmart, managed the shoe department and she caught many fashionable, rich-looking people actually walking off with new shoes and leaving their old ones.

      And them with plenty of money. Go figure.

      Come back again.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, vkwok

      Thank you for your nice comment. You are so supportive and I sincerely appreciate it.

      Come back again and stay longer.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Grand Old Lady (who is still NOT old)

      Yes, No. 9 was exposed not long ago in a big department/grocery store in a mid-western state. A team of thieves worked this scam for weeks and were finally caught on a security camera and booked.


      Thanks for your comment.

    • Everyday Miracles profile image

      Becki Rizzuti 3 years ago from Indiana, USA

      I *always* try on both of a pair of shoes so that I can feel the way that they will fit my feet as I walk around in them. I don't want to limp in one shoe with the other shoe off, or with a mis-matched pair of shoes, so I always try on both.

      Call me "no one" before you call me a shoplifter. I just bought two pairs of shoes the other day and I wouldn't lay out the $90 before I'd felt how they fit on my feet. I don't understand why anybody would only try on one!

      My partner agrees: both shoes.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      Shoplifting is such a common crime. No. 9 however was particularly surprising. Didn't know they could go that far. Interesting!

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      This is some sound advice. Anyone working in a store should definitely read this hub.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, sheilamyers,

      I agree with you. To me, there are people few and far between who are actually not aware of it being illegal to shoplift as many public service ads and TV spots telling us that stealing IS illegal.

      And that commandment, Thou shalt not steal, is still in effect.

      Thanks for always cheering me up with your deep comments.

      Love you, my friend.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Thanks for the "Funny Word Lesson." So you like spoilage? Okay. The Walmart where I live has a beaut of a hilarious word: Shrinkage.

      (e.g.) George Castanza, Seinfield. Do you recall?

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Thank you so much for the sweet comment and I do respect your "just" nudging the store manager in the direction of the thief.

      It is dangerous in the world.

      Come back and visit with me again.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Interesting hub! While I may nudge the storekeeper in the direction of the shoplifter, I wouldn't challenge them. As another reader commented, it can be dangerous out there. However, I do agree with you, this does affect us as consumers, because the cost is passed on through price increases, so we all pay.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      This is a great hub! You hit all of the truths about shoplifting. It does eventually affect everyone because the store will recover it's losses by charging more for the stuff we buy. While it's true, I hate someone using the excuse they didn't know shoplifting was a crime. Okay, maybe one or two people don't, but the others are lying. If there's a price tag on something and they walk out of the store without paying it's stealing and they know it. They're hoping if they pretend to be stupid it'll get them off the hook. I say "Good luck". As the saying goes, ignorance of the law is no excuse and the lie will get them no sympathy from a judge.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I just love the term spoilage. Loss prevention is everyone's business. Fun hub thanks

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear carrie Lee,

      So true. Thank you for doing your part in stopping this menace that WE pay for and for commenting on this piece. I appreciate YOU and All of My Followers so much.

      I wish You a Happy and Peaceful weekend.

    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Kept private 3 years ago from Northeast United States

      Interesting :). I do my part and report any suspicious activity :). Thank you for this useful hub :). One tip is to NEVER personally approach the suspect and accuse them of stealing... You don't know who you are dealing with and they could harm you.