June 5th, 2006 10:45 PM
Convenience Store Shoplifter
Last week, in a NC convenience, I observed the man in front of me in line distracting the lone clerk by asking for several different snuff brands in the rack behind the clerk. When the clerk turned to look at the rack, the customer quickly slipped a $5 cigarette lighter into his hip pocket. Customer was pretty skanky looking, with a "do", greasy dirty hair, dirty, and tatoos all over. Unclean too. Filthy clothes, but, say 40-45, with a strong laborers build, although scrawny and sinwey.
A scrawny friend of mine was waiting outside for me. The store was very busy - 6 or 7 other customers inside. The gas pumps were busy - say 14 to 16 stations, 10 -12 in use. I had watched one customer eat a hotdog and drink a coke without checking out. It was late, say 11 PM. Well lit. Clerk alone. Windows open and unobstructed. Wife is in hotel room across the street.
I had a Glock 26 with a 17 round backup mag, pepper spray, etc. (typical ninja stuff )
I stepped to the side of the customer, and back, putting a display between the customer and myself. The display hid my strong side. I was, say, condition red. As the clerk proceeded to check the fellow out, I asked him, in a just loud enough voice for others to hear, if he was going to have the clerk ring the lighter he'd just slipped in his pocket. He shot me a dirty look over his shoulder. A long look. I stared back, he slowly pulled the lighter out of his pocket and laid it on the counter, paid for what he'd actually bought, and then departed the store.
He met a friend in the parking lot, and proceeded to curse and stare at me. I let an elderly lady check out in front of me, and then I was checked out and paid slowly. The two men outside had departed in separate cars during the intentionally delayed check-out. I stepped to the store doors, watched the two cars leave the parking lot, and then enter a busy side road before I left the store.
My friend confirmed the two fellas were whinning about me. We walked quickly to the hotel (watching carefully for the cars to return) and went inside.
Discussed with the convenience store manager the next day, with recomendations regarding staffing, training, etc.
Post "Action" Review:
I don't tolerate thieves well,
Lots of customers on site,
I put distance between customer and myself,
I put obstacle between customer and myself,
I was calm,
Probably still too close,
Didn't "need" to do this,
Wife safe - not a protection issue,
What did I do wrong? Right? The whole thing wrong? Stay out of it totally? Ignore it? Rocky - you're in loss prevention - was this stupid?
Have at me guys - I'm not looking for "atta boy" stuff - just solid critiques or "jeez" - "stay outta this stuff"
June 5th, 2006 11:06 PM
IMO you did the responsible thing but I guess yes - you did invite some risk.
Whether that was right or wrong is down to the way we might individually have played this out - in fact right/wrong is not so much the deal on reflection - more a case of was it wise or unwise. If we are out to minimize any risk to ourselves then it was unwise as the sequele could have turned out to be unpleasant if not dangerous.
OTOH, From a conscience and honesty POV it was wise and responsible - in terms of the theft and the effect of that on a small business.
I have to finally answer that - for myself - it'd be (per situation, and these vary in their details) - ''play it as you see it'' - and as conscience dictates.
Chris - P95
NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.
"To own a gun and assume that you are armed
is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."
- a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.
June 5th, 2006 11:08 PM
June 5th, 2006 11:36 PM
You did the right thing. It's not always easiest to do what's right, but it needs to be done.
June 5th, 2006 11:42 PM
agree its proubably up to the indavidual but i like to think that i would do the same i dont like theives seems you looked out for your safety while letting a scum bag know that its not ok to steal just my 02
June 6th, 2006 01:08 AM
You invited confrontation while armed over a stolen cigarette lighter. You may think it was a good deed but what if it turned into an altercation? You risked your safety as well as the safety of the clerk and other customers over something almost meaningless.
June 6th, 2006 02:44 AM
An eagle does not waste his energy catching flies.
You do need to weigh the potential outcome of any action against the possible reaction.
I learned that lesson a long time ago when I was on a port authority bus & saw the bus driver get stabbed in the throat because he refused to open the bus door for some scumbag that demanded to be let off the bus without paying the fare. I think I was 16 years old.
I also think the fare (back then) was about .50 cents.
You can be 100% correct & still end up 100% dead or disabled.
I admire your action and I'm happy that it worked out for the best.
Probably the more prudent thing to do would have been to wait until the guy left & inform the clerk that the guy just stole a lighter & they could then watch him closer the next time he enters their store.
I hate thieves also but, I hate the idea of a Mother being without a good Son....or a Wife being without a good Husband & kids without a good Dad much more.
My Uncle Paul (who owned a very successful Dry Cleaning Shop) was fatally shot in the chest because he did not have some guys suit ready on time. He never saw "it" coming.
It pays to remember that some people are just plain crazy these days.
Always expect an ABNORMAL human reaction (to any causative action) rather than a "normal" one.
Also...weigh any potential confrontation against the harsh fact/reality that there is always the 50/50 chance that you will lose that confrontation.
Make absolutely sure the that the confrontation is worth that risk.
Dying to prevent a violent assault on an "innocent" reads much better in the newspaper obituaries than dying to protect a ZIPPO lighter.
Just my opinion on that & I'm sure that some will disagree.
Last edited by QKShooter; June 6th, 2006 at 02:55 AM.
June 6th, 2006 08:13 AM
The employee has probably lifted more than that from the store on any given shift. Stores typically budget in for this loss. So long as it stays below the threshold no problem. I don't like people who steal either, however this is not my fight. Yeah when good men do nothing evil prevails, but you know what? Evil prevailed a long time ago when the criminals got more rights than I have.
No one's life was threatened so I stay out of it. What I would like to be able to do is horse whip the guy in public. That went out a few years ago though.
Procrastinators are the leaders of tomorrow.
June 6th, 2006 09:14 AM
+1 to QKSHOOTER
There is no right or wrong answer to this. You did what you felt was right and it had a positive outcome. In my opinion you pick and choose your battles. If you felt this bugged you enough to say something then go for it.
I personally would have stayed out of this one and advised the clerk afterwards.
June 6th, 2006 10:14 AM
I was taught to do the right thing, I feel in this situation you did the right thing. I know my mom would be upset if I told her I watched someone stealing and did not do anything. I think you handled yourself very well, and believe I would have done something very similiar in the same situation.
June 6th, 2006 12:18 PM
I'd say you did the right thing. You did what you thought was best at the time and thought ahead enough to put some defensive measures in ahead of time.
The only thing that stops bad guys with guns is good guys with guns. SgtD
June 6th, 2006 01:47 PM
I think what you did was unnecessary and somewhat foolish even if well intended. You could have tried for license plate, or just let the clerk know about it after the guy left and let him decide what course of action to take according to his training and policies. Calling out a thief in public could have escalated the situation to a level you or someone else would regret - especially with so many people around...
June 6th, 2006 02:40 PM
As you can all tell by the fact it took me over a week to post this, I'm still reflecting on the wisdom, or lack thereof, of my actions. The comments above are all welcomed!
I rationalized it hard at that time, and felt the risks minimal given the circumstances, but still the outcome could have been much different as many have pointed out. The fact I had to rationalize it tells me something in and of itself.
Unfortunately, to me its not a matter of budgets (although you're probably correct, Scott), but the action was not based on a economic analysis. It was based on my sense of right and wrong, true/false, and tempered by my wife's retail background. It wasn't about the $5 retail price, or $2.50 wholesale cost, or the $200.00 they had to sell to make up for the possible loss. It turned out OK, but I've reflected enough now to possibly choose the alternative action - wait, and tell the clerk. I did cause some heartburn though - cursing and whining, so that is consolation, and has given me a laugh or two in the meantime.
Thanks for the input!
June 6th, 2006 04:53 PM
Ever since I made the decision to carry, I've been wondering how it would affect my actions in different situations.
"Pre-gun" I would have mentioned it as you did, in a loud voice so that the clerk would get the message.
Now, with my CWP only a few days from arriving, I wonder what I'd do. Maybe keep 2mSHU handy as I went out.
I'd like to think I'd not change that aspect of myself.
I'm glad this forum is around so that it brings up those issues we all need to think through.
Armed & Dangerous...and Inconspicuous...
June 6th, 2006 05:19 PM
Please don't take me the wrong way. I understand why you did what you did & it's somewhat commendable but, simultaneously it's also an error in practical judgement...given the degree of the actual offense. That is my opinion.
The difference in being a Chump as VS a Champion always depends on the final outcome.
Yes, your Wife was safe at home and so "no problem" but, who protects her next week, month, or year should anything ever happen to you?
And while your loved ones might derive some small degree of comfort in your early demise if you ended up incapacitated (or worse) rescuing a Mother & her infant child from a blazing car...they might feel so wonderful NOT having you around because you protected a convenience store cigarette lighter.
This is sort of like the wind blowing a $10 bill out of your hands & into a fast moving river.
Sure...it's your money & you worked hard for it but, is it really worth diving in after it?
Fantastic if you do decide to jump in and somehow manage to fetch it & Not So Fantastic if you get caught in an undertow & pulled down and drowned.
Last edited by QKShooter; June 6th, 2006 at 05:35 PM.
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