Division II: Pliers Not a Device Designed to Facilitate Shoplifting and a Great Story from Your Professor
The Prof can relate to this case, having worked for years as a Loss Prevention Specialist with Fred Meyer. This case revolves around a law designed to prosecute professional shoplifters. Many of these types will use devices designed to counter security measures, such as foil lined bags, tag removers, and security tag deactivators. What happened here reminds me of a story from my youth:
I was training a fellow loss prevention employee at the downtown Renton store. We were walking around, watching people and talking about how it was important to keep your eyes open. As we were doing so, the trainee, oblivious, walked right by a man in the furniture department who had a paid of bold cutters and was furiously trying to remove the tag from a very expensive Nike jacket. I grabbed the employee (who, due to being tall and walking like a dork, we shall call Jar-Jar), and pulled him over to the end of an aisle so we could keep an eye on the shoplifter.
After he got the tag off, the shoplifter walked around the store for a while, jacket under his arm. He bought a 40 of something awful, and a bite to eat. I quickly confirmed with the cashier that he did not, in fact, buy the jacket. We then followed the gentleman out, identified ourselves as loss prevention, and asked him to come back inside the store.
Simultaneously, he dropped the bag with the 40, smashing into a puddle of malt liquor awfulness, and then engaged my partner in what has to be the least effective loss prevention technique ever invented. Jar Jar attempted to stop the bad guy by repeatedly pounding the guy’s fist with his face. The guy took off running, and I went after him. Jar Jar, true to form, slipped and fell on the malt liquor, leaving me by my lonesome. Fast as I was at the time, he was just as fast. When he took off across a busy 4 lane road, I decided nabbing him took less precedence than the structural integrity of my bones.
Anyhow, that leads me to this. The shoplifter here was using pliers to cut off a tag. However, pliers aren’t designed as a theft device. While they can be used for that, its not their purpose. I have seen people use kids, shopping totes, and strategically placed boxes of crackers as shoplifting devices. Unfortunately, for the law giving you extenuating circumstances to apply, shoplifting has to be their purpose. The Court remanded the case based on the pliers not counting.
Also, don't try to stop people with your face, its really ineffective!