Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Man of Steal

Had a confrontation with a shoplifter today. The shoplifting didn't occur today, mind you--the incident occurred about six weeks ago, when a freakishly pot-bellied fellow came in with two teenage accomplices and attempted to steal a Superman symbol/sign from the store. The sign, made out of steel, was a display item given to us by a welder customer. Several had asked about buying it, including the shoplifter, but it's not for sale.

So, on a busy day when Whitney and Amy were working, he came in with the aforementioned teens and waited until both employees were busy, then he moved the sign into a staging area, whereupon the video shows him pointing it out to one of the kids who's wearing a bulky sweatshirt. The kid seizes an opportunity and puts the sign under his sweatshirt--at which point its bulkiness catches Whitney's attention. As she and Amy moved into position to confront the sweatshirt-wearing member of the theft team, the other two moved in a separate direction to momentarily distract Amy and Whitney, while the sweatshirt-clad thief dumped the sign at the end of a display rack and then put on a show of mock innocence in pulling his sweatshirt up to prove he had nothing. What none of the three knew, though, was that all of this was recorded on video.

We showed the video to one of our customers who's also a Cobb County policeman, and to another who's an attorney; both said that the moment the item was concealed, a crime had occurred. So when the potbellied ringleader ambled back into the store today (without the kids), we confronted him, told him of the video, and told him he was to leave the store permanently. We had his picture, we knew what he looked like, and any further visits to the store would qualify as trespassing.

"I guess it's time for me to be heading on," the weeble-like individual said, and headed straight for the door.

Then I followed him and his current travelling companion, a stout fellow who looked like Tor Johnson with a goatee, to the Dodge Ram truck in which they were travelling (Tor was driving). Realizing I was trying to get his license plate, the driver changed the direction of his exit from the parking place, turning the rear of the vehicle away from me (Georgia only has plates on the back of the car, none on the front). Problem was, there was really no way to exit by doing so--all he could do was circle around past me and then go up the next lane, which would put the rear of his vehicle in a clear line of sight. So he tried to do a complex twist-and-turn maneuver to back up through a variety of open parking places. Since he was driving a truck half the size of Rhode Island, though, he couldn't accomplish his goal, and he ended up in a position where I could get his license plate quite clearly.

At that point, Tor jumped from the truck.

"What are you doing? You can't get my license plate."'

"Sure I can," I said. "It's ________, in case you need it for reference."

"It's illegal for you to copy down my license plate," Tor said.

"So call the police. I'll wait for 'em to show up!"

"I'm in law enforcement," Tor said--although my guess the closest he's ever come is being a resident of a law enforcement facility for a time.

"Then you should know that they put license plates in public view for a reason," I told him.

At that point, Tor did a mock phone call maneuver that involved punching numbers on his phone. A variety of numbers. I reminded him that 911 would work just fine. He then threatened to do me physical harm; I reminded him that I had already noted his license plate and had his pictures on our security system, then went back into the store and e-mailed the data to my G-Mail account for reference. Tor and his stout comrade drove off in a huff--well, okay, it was still a Dodge Ram--and we heard nothing further.

One thing's for sure--if you deal with the public, you never know what to expect!


Tredekka said...

Way to go, Cliff! Sounds like you Tor him a new one...

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