I have seen maybe ten New York City shoplifters in action, myself included. My own shoplifting episode occurred shortly after I moved here. Shopping in the old Alexander’s department store for a new shoulder bag, I selected a few I liked and tried them on, slipping the straps over my shoulder to see how comfortable each felt. Not sufficiently impressed to breakout my wallet, I left the store, passing as usual the security guard stationed at the door. A block away on Lexington, I felt an odd, unfamiliar sensation on my right side. Looking down, I was flabbergasted to see I was wearing two shoulder bags – my own — and one of those I had tried on in the store. Oh boy! Sporting two purses hanging from my shoulder, including one with a large dangling Alexander’s sales tag, I had calmly sauntered past the store security guard. What if he had spotted it? What if he had hauled me in as a shoplifter? What if the police had been called? I could have been (gulp) arrested.
I stood in the street, uncertain what to do. If I returned the bag, what could I possibly say to store personnel that would sound plausible? Who would believe that anyone would have been dopey enough to leave the store unaware they were carrying store merchandise – and then compound that dopiness by attempting to return it? And if I simply attempted to replace the purse back on its peg without a word to anyone, that could look weird to their cameras too. Suspicious even. Every possible move seemed impossible.[Read more…]