Corin Anderson (magellanic) wrote,
Corin Anderson
magellanic

A crime of opportunity

I witnessed someone shoplift from the local Rite-Aid today. It wasn't even subtle, either. It was around 9:20p and I had just walked to the front of the store to pay for my item. Checkstand #2's light was on but the cashier wasn't there, nor did I immediately see anyone who looked like a Rite-Aid employee. I stood there and looked around a bit and saw the soon-to-be thief walk up as well. He was carrying a shopping basket and was on his cell phone. I didn't see what he had in his basket but it didn't look remarkable. He walked past me and lingered a bit as I did, looking for the cashier. But unlike me, he just kept walking, deliberately but not quickly, to the door. The cashier walked up from the aisle she was on and was surprised the fellow just kept walking toward the door. She called out to him, he didn't stop. She called "Security!" (Rite-Aid has security?) but the fellow never slowed down or even turn around. He walked up to a car that had pulled up to the front, got in, and the car headed off.

The cashier walked up to the threshold of the door and looked out but stayed there only for a second. After a moment a young guy came out from the back, wearing a polo shirt and a nametag, I think, but definitely not the usual Rite-Aid apparel. A minute later another man came from the back, taller, older, and heftier, and they looked out the door as well. Not that there was anything to do at this point. The cashier was clearly bothered that her "security" wasn't any quicker than it was. But, after another minute things seemed to return to normal. Notably, it didn't seem like the store made any effort to call the police to report the crime.

What did I do in all this time? This didn't take just a second or two -- it was a good minute from when I first saw the would-be thief to when he walked out the door. I just stood and watched. I didn't think he was *actually* going to walk out the door until he was about one step away, and by then the cashier had shown up and it was clearly her show. But I also consciously deliberated about doing something, and decided: no, there's nothing to be gained by being a hero, except perhaps to save the Rite-Aid corporation from the loss of about $15 (wholesale) product, and plenty to be lost (does this fellow have a knife? Have a buddy that'll jump me? Have a better memory for a face than I do and will jump me later?). I felt a little tinge of guilt for just *standing* there while a crime was obviously being committed before me. But only a tinge. No *person* was in harm's way, nor even anywhere close. And the actual loss of the crime couldn't be more than $20 or $30.

Anyway, it was somewhat surreal. I mean, I really expected the guy to turn around at some point, not just keep walking *out the door*...
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