Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Press got it wrong

Last Sunday, one of my co-workers caught a shoplifter at the store where I work. We detained the shoplifter in our store office pending the arrival of the police.

During his short detention, he pleaded with us for release. Claimed he was going to make payment but couldn't find the cashier, etc, etc. In desperation, he took out a cutter and threatened to slash his wrist if we didn't release him or let him make payment. Sensing imminent danger, my store manager agreed to let him make payment at the cashier. This was a ruse to buy time while we called for the Mall security.

As luck would have it, there was a long queue at the cashier point at that moment and the alleged shoplifter obediently joined the queue! Just as he reached the front of the queue, mall security personnel arrived and he was yet again detained once more.

His mother suddenly appeared on the scene and started pleading with us to release her son. To the extent of kneeling, crying and begging, all right in front of customers waiting at the cashier point. Thus, I asked the security person to escort the couple to the office.

On the way to the office, the mother became highly emotional. Wailing and pleading and even feigning an epileptic seizure and started to shiver and shudder. But we could all see it was very obvious 'drama' on her part. To convince us of her act, she even pretended to faint and sprawl flat on her back.

It was at this very moment that an unknown customer in the store took a photograph of the scene.
The photo was submitted to the Chinese tabloids and we became instant celebrities the following day! Loosely translated, the blurb in the tabloid said.... "a woman was caught shoplifting...she became very agitated and fainted...and was helped by a customer onto the sofa to recover.."
In reality the 'customer helping her' was the son, the real culprit.

The woman's dramatics came to an abrupt stop the moment the police turned up, ha ha.
The shoplifter was questioned by the police and they found that he had lifted more items from other shops in the mall earlier. These included Levi's, shirts, belts and accessories, all stashed in his haversack.

To me, I would think that the mother and son worked as a team, with the mother being the lookout.

A week earlier, the same vigilant staff, Kerk, had caught another shoplifter trying to steal a hard disk drive. He also pleaded for mercy and Kerk relented and made the shoplifter pay for the item.

Unbelievably, this shoplifter had the audacity to return about 2 hours later to claim a refund for the purchase! Of cos, not knowing about the shoplifting attempt, the cashiers gave him a full refund according to the company's policy.

The lesson we learned from the incident was that we had to be firm with all adult shoplifters caught. No mercy will be shown.

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