Training session 37: Shoplifting
Learn it from both sides of the Crime
Personally i dont beleive in shoplifting, for that fact i dont beleive in theft. I do however respect those with the skill to pull of major breakins and accomplish immensly huge scams. There are a few situations when the skills of shoplifting may be necessary for survival. The one situation inwhich i have seen this simple minded theft even remotely justifiable is when shops find it necessary to charge large sums of money for knowledge that should be available to the public for free. This DOES NOT mean you should steal from second hand book shops and it definately does not say you should steal from libraries.
Anyway, in the context of free knowledge, here are the views and methods of shoplifting from both sides of the situation. For the thief, this type of theft can be quite profittable, and easy money, however if you are caught, you really do get screwed over bigtime. For the targetted shop, theft is extremely expensive, to recover the costs of one item can require the sale of ten items, and even lead to bankruptcy. This said, NEVER steal from small business EVER, you are only pushing up the price of legit goods to cover the cost of your actions.
Lets first take a generallised situation, when you first walk into a large store, we normally see registers at the exit, and a service counter near the entry. Normally always, there will be a couple of collumns that beep at you if you are carrying items that you shouldnt be out the exit. These sensors will sometimes be on both the entry and exit aswell. As you walk through the store you will see a few fire doors, staff walking around and cameras on the roof. To dispel alot of myths i have heard, and still keep hearing, most items do not have security tags, you could walk through the sensors at the door with a tv and it probably wouldnt even go off, but the person at the door would probably think your a bit shady. The shop does not cover the place with thousands of micro cameras and pay fifty security guards to stare at cameras all day. Infact only stuff that is stolen often normally gets tagged. Just for your interest, the most stolen objects are g-strings, makeup, clothing and quite a bit after that are dvd's.
While walking around the shop, never immediately go straight for the item you are after, look around a bit, and try to get rid of that stupid look on your face. Its generally very easy to pick a thief on their first attempt. Make sure you dont look out of the ordinary, never wear a large trench coat, and attempt to refrain from carrying bags. The most stupid and obvious thing you could do is pickup that new cd from your favourite band, put your head up, look around, and try to ram it up your shirt and hope everyone thinks that your nipples should look flat, square and the same size as a cd case.
One method i have seen work surprisingly well is the following, remember this only works in smaller shops, but has the potential to take larger items. Take around five friends, a few of which know whats going on and the rest that hopefully dont have a clue whats going on. Walk into the shop well ahead of them and make sure they dont say anything to you or they could get in trouble. Keep your bag on your back, and make sure your friends drop their bags at the front counter. Now have your friends block view to your location and browse around a bit, but remember, if you talk to them, they can get in trouble so act oblivious. Now put what you want in your bag, after this have your friends go and ask the people at the counter stupid questions to confuse them and put them off their usual train of thought. Now you can happily walk out. Here are the reasons why this method can be somewhat successful, if done properly your friends wont be associated with you, and therefore there diversions wont be thought of as assistance to a crime. Secondly, the fact that you are now getting some form of cover, theres less chance of you getting noticed and therefore caught. This method however will probably get you caught if you do it continuously and get greedy.
In quite a few countries, it can have quite substantial implications for a business to accuse someone of stealing who hasnt. This can be used very much to your advantage. If you were to walk into a shop, pretend to shove something under your shirt in the most obvious way possible while stairing at the staff and sweating like a pig, then simply walk out of the shop with nothing, you can quite easily get an idea of how good the security is. Heres an example of this situation in a more profitable fashion. This takes two people to perform and is generally suited to places like large computer stores and used to steal small things like laptop accessories but is nearly unstoppable. A week before the hit, go to the shop and scope your target. Now if its in packaging ask the staff if they can show you the product, they would generally pull it out of the box and show it off trying to sell it to you. From this we know the quickest way to remove the packaging. Now come back a week later with your friend. For this you can happily act if your associated with him or her. Walk around a bit, talk to the staff a little, get to know them. Now walk over to the target, open it up and slip the target under the shelf on the floor. Tap your friend or whatever to let them know its done and continue to talk to the staff or whoever. Now your friend can walk past the item, tie his shoe and ram it down his sock or up his pants. This can preferabely be done with the least time possible. This person can now come back, or just walk around the shop a little more. At this point, if the person was to walk out the store, they would be commiting suicide. Now walk over to the empty box, do the dodgy work, make sure someone sees you but you dont see them. You want to be able to convince anyone that you are stealing something. From this point go see your friend, get that sweat up and tell them your going to grab a bite to eat or whatever. The staff member their talking to should by this point be looking at as if your dodgy as all hell. Now just walk out the shop, if you get stopped, youve got nothing to hide. Just remember to give the security guard a shifty look, the more he doesnt trust you the better you are. In the case that you are stopped or questionned, then your friend knows they must put the stuff back and its not safe to leave with anything. If you arent stopped, then you should be home free, your friend should be able to walk out calmly knowing there is nearly no chance of being stopped.
These were just two situations of blatent theft, but im sure you can think of more so lets get back to that large convenience store. I have personally done alot of research into the way these places operate their security and know what you should expect and hopefully how to bypass the problems. Although the shop has quite a few security cameras, they are generally easy to spot, and there isnt a guy sitting there staring at the monitors with awe waiting for their next catch, they are probably just as bored as all the staff working there, so aslong as you aint obvious, they arent too much of a problem. Your biggest problem is undercover security guards. One such person i know does an extremely good job at her work, thats right, its not some tight ass muscle man, but a average looking chick who really just looks like a mum. These people often communicate through mobile phones, so dont expect to see a radio strapped to them or something stupid like that. These people can generally blend in like nothing else and really do have a surprising success rate, the cameras just follow the people the staff tag. Never sit in the same department for more than a few minutes, or its obvious, and never stand up and start gawking around like an idiot. Get what your after and leave the basic area and go look at something else. Smaller things can easily be hidden in in, or under your clothing, but other larger items cant. Depending on the person at the checkout, a more expensive item can be hidden inside another box without too much chance of being checked. Trust me on this, the people at the checkout care less and check less if you purchase alot of stuff, but are more cautious on small ammounts. Also using old receipts can sometimes work nicely, just make sure you dont look interested in whatever your trying to pass as previously bought. Anyway, once you have the item, and your pretty sure its safely hidden and the shop doesnt know about it, you now have to get it out of the shop.
Remember those sensors at the door? Well these are your biggest problems, they stop you from getting nearly anything expensive out, and nearly anything electronic or your favourite cd's. The two main detection systems are magnetic and radio frequency (RF). Magnetic generally work by this method, when a magnet passes through another magnetic field generated by the sensors, it induces a small current, in effect it creates a circuit for a tiny period of time with the object is moving. These devices generally get strapped or pinned to clothing and box's. They can come in many shapes and forms, there are three main ones though. The first is just a tag that is either strapped or pinned to the item. When a magnetic force is applied to the rear of the device, it pulls back a spring and releases the latch and in turn releasing itself from the item. The second one is a little strip of magnetic material. This is often glued to larger box's and is very rarely removed. A little prying at one of these will remove it without a problem. The last widely used one is often used on cd's and other electronic goods. You can recognize this as it is a box that surrounds the item entirely, making it obviously stolen and obviously protected. The openning of this device works through a bar which is placed inside the box. When pressure is applied through the small holes in the top of the box, the bar is forced to move and release the latch, giving you the item. To bypass this all you have to his is push a small screw driver from the hardware department into the holes and try to move the bar down while holding the parts you open there with the other hand. Although this action is obvious, it allows you to prepare an item for its later theft. One other way to demagnatise and therefore disable the protection is to run a nice strong magnet over it and around it a few times and hope its strong enough. The newer protection which is somewhat more expensive than magnetism is radio frequency. This system is quite alot more advanced than plain magnetism, and doesnt require batteries to transmit, but unfortunately i beleive it has quite a few flaws. Here is how it works, when electricity is passed through a coil, it creates a magnetic field. Now as the magnetic field expands, if it passes over another coil, it is able to induce an electric current, but as soon as the field stops expanding the secondary coil stops creating a current. Now, to fix this, the big sensors at the door constantly create and remove a magnetic field from around them using AC current, allowing the secondary coil to continue to induce current. Now when the circut receives power, it is able to provide power to its main circuit and with that, emit a radio frequency to the sensor. So basically the RF device has the following components, a release catch, a coil, a transformer and some form of radio transmitter. This technology is currently mainly used on dvd's to lock the case from openning and costs around $5 US per device. Other items may use the device aswell. Now ofcourse, you wish to disable it, so how can we do this? Well the more advanced method, which would be nearly automated would be to work out what frequency the device transmits on, and then transmit an opposing wave which would cancel out the devices transmition, but remember, your only common theives so you probably dont have the brains to do this. The simpler method is as follows, firstly grab yourself two wires, now grab the item, take it to the hardware department and hook it to the largest car battery you can find. This could have three possible effects. Firstly, it could short the circuit quite easily, as they generally dont contain strong diodes, and thefore kill the transmitter with a major overload of power. This should be the most common result, and also the most desirable. Next, you could cause the latch to release, making it possible to discard the device. Lastly, you could find that the current isnt large enough and nothing happens, in this case try putting a few batteries together in parralel and try killing it again. This really shouldnt be necessary, but hey, you can never be too cautious.
The hardest part of starting to steal for most people is the feeling of guilt and the fight to slow the adrenalaine rush thats given when they are stealing. Although some people never get this feeling, most people do. Even alot of the most experienced theives still get it after years of not being caught. This is the one thing you have to learn to overcome, it causes you to overlook security, act stupid, and sweat guilt to on lookers, in short, its the main reason people get caught.
Heres a bit of strong advice for you. That small easy to steal item is worth more than that two ton Playstation, or atleast its worth more for its weight anyway. If your stealing, never get cocky, go for whats sellable rather than what you really want. Take the smaller things as they are easier and less obvious. Remember, you want to stay out of jail, not go into it.
By now you should have a somewhat better idea of what you have already considered doing by the time that you started reading this. Just to repeat myself, i DO NOT steal, i learn and study the methods for personal interest, not to get shit for free. Remember, someone else is always paying for your stupid actions.