Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shoplifting doesn't pay ... but it makes great stories

As last minute shoppers scurry around for Christmas gifts, just a reminder: no matter how tempting it may seem, don’t shoplift. Especially don’t try to steal anything awkwardly shaped or heavy or might get you in the media stories about your brilliant stupidity.

That might be even worse that the criminal record.

An Associated Press not that long ago had a story about someone who was caught for allegedly attempting to steal a guitar in his pants.

I say “allegedly,” since of course the guy isn’t guilty until found so by a court of law. However, it appears the evidence was … well, pretty evident.

As AP reported it… “I saw him walking out to his pickup truck and the bulges in his leather jacket. I said, “Hey what have you got there,’” Clifton Lovell said. Lovell owns the music store that was robbed.

So, the suspect answers Lovell: “Nothing.”

Lovell points to what appears like oh, probably a guitar in someone’s pants, and says to the alleged thief, “You’ve got something.”

On that note, the suspect decided he could no longer keep stringing along the store owner and revealed what he had on his own accord.

“The neck of the guitar was almost down to his knee and the back of the guitar was almost up to his neck. It wasn’t hard to spot. There was no way he could sit down or get into the pickup,” Lovell said in the AP story.

Sound unbelievable? Maybe.

But the story reminded me of a former roommate I had. Her father owned a small town general store, the type of store that had all kinds of things crowded everywhere in it on counters as well as on the floor.

One day, some shoppers came in. They were members of a certain quiet, hardworking religious order who all dress alike, with the women all wearing long dark skirts and rather baggy clothes. They came in a grain truck, nothing unusual for a small town in the middle of farm country.

The visitors piled out of the truck and into the store, meandering through the aisles. My friend said her father and her were busy with other shoppers in the store, but watched as the group of people didn’t buy anything but began to move out the store door. One woman in particular seemed to walk a lot more strangely and slowly, but obviously with determination and purpose. Needless to say, this caught the eye of the store owner.

It wasn’t until the last moment before the woman was about to escape into the waiting truck outside that my friend finally realized what was happening and dashed out the store to save her father’s merchandise.

She had spotted the woman lifting her skirt to grab the prized shoplifted item underneath to put into the truck with her companions.

There was the large sewing machine, price tag still on it.

As she told the story later, my friend explained that the woman had targeted the sewing machine on the store floor, waiting for a distraction, gone to the sewing machine, promptly spread her legs, lifted the skirt, squatted over the machine, dropped her skirt, squeezed her legs together, lifted the machine off the ground, and had waddled the sewing machine out the store.

What my friend found most incredible though was how strong the thief’s legs must have been to squeeze such a big sewing machine, lift it off the ground, and walk as far as she did with it.

“I almost wanted to give her the sewing machine for her effort,” said my friend.

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