Samuel Webster

February 2, 2010 Buying is the new shoplifting. Posted In: Blog

So, here’s what happened. I don’t tell this story really to make a big deal about it, but just to explain to those who asked, and also to make a comment on how heavy-handed some security firms/teams can be. About a year ago, my girlfriend at the time worked in the same store. I used to bring her little gifts every so often, small chocolates I would buy in store, and then take to her section and then leave. I was in store for a maximum of two minutes. I didn’t stop to talk to her, or disrupt her work. I walked in, dropped them off, walked out. Apparently, security approached her at the end of her shift one night and said that since I wasn’t buying anything, she should tell me not to come to David Jones anymore, because they suspected me of shoplifting. Keep in mind this is my local shopping centre, 10minutes away from my house. All a bit much, don’t you think?

Around 11am today, I bought two DVDs in Myer. At about 1:40pm I went into David Jones to use their bathroom. When I entered the store the alarm went off, employees looked at me like ‘Don’t worry, it always happens.’ After all, I couldn’t be stealing something if I was entering. I went to the bathroom which has a security gate outside it. It beeped. Went to the bathroom, came out, there was a security guard at the gate. It didn’t beep. I kept walking and noticed a security guard walking about 10m in front of me, both their walkie-talkies were alive with chatter.

Guard #1 positioned himself ahead of me at the exit, I was on the phone. I got off when he asked to check my bag. Two DVDs, Two Books, Tic Tacs. He asked to see the DVDs, I showed him. He asked me where I got them. I told him. A second security guard came and checked the DVDs, and my bag. I told them I thought this was a bit much. He asked to see the receipt. I showed him. Since the codes on the receipt were individual sales codes, and not barcodes, they didn’t match the DVDs. He said that I couldn’t prove I had purchased them. (What happened to being innocent until proven guilty?) He asked me to step inside and left me with Guard #1, a small man who looked at me with a small amount of fear (Surely, looking tough should be part of the job description?)

Anyway, over his radio I heard “bring him to the holding room, we’ll deal with it there.” I was on the phone with Marianna who was coming to meet me, and when I got off I told him ‘By the way, I’m not going to any holding room.’ and he quickly backtracked ‘No no no, it’s nothing like that, don’t worry. we just need you to come to the…entertainment section with us” I told him I wasn’t going anywhere. That I was going to wait for my friend, and since I hadn’t done anything wrong, I wasn’t going anywhere for questioning. Guard #2 returns with #3 and #4. #3 stays for about 2 minutes, then leaves. Guard #4 seems to be the head of store security. He is dressed better than the other three guards, about my height but with a bigger build. He tells me to go with him.

“No, I’m going to wait for a friend.”
“They can come and find you.”
“I don’t have to go anywhere.”
“If I think you might have stolen something, I can apprehend you right now.”
“Do you actually believe I’ve stolen something?”
“Yes, I think you might have.”
(Keep in mind, I had receipts…This would be the most crazily planned DVD Heist ever.. I would have to actually spend a certain amount on Myer products and then steal the exact same amount from DJs (the DVDs still had stickers on them))
“Do I LOOK suspicious to you? I’m going to make a call.”
“You can make a call.”
Marianna on the phone said, “Don’t let them touch you.” I directed my response at the guard: “Don’t be silly, they won’t touch me.”

(When retelling this story to Joyeeta, I told her that I wished he had tried to force me towards the ‘holding room’, purely because there are too many security guards who don’t know legally what they can and can’t do to a civilian/customer. Hearsay says there are a few cops who are the same.)

I calle Marianna and stay on with her until she’s basically outside the store, knowing that I would have to argue my point further if I hung up and waited. She arrived and laughed at the security guards. (That’s Marianna… Later she told me that she considered saying “SAM! have you been shoplifting again?” but thought better of it.)

I told the guard that there was no point in me staying. I had receipts and I hadn’t stolen anything. This was a complete waste of time.

He asked if I had anything else on me. I said no. He said “Maybe we could pinpoint the problem” and reached for the collar of my jacket. I pulled away slightly and Marianna said “Or we could just leave.” He said he couldn’t let me do that. Then I realised the one thing they should’ve done straight away is scan the ‘stolen goods’ by themselves. Surprise, surprise, they beeped.

Realising, perhaps, how stupid this whole thing was, he made a point of explaining to me the thing we all knew all along. The thing that we established fifteen minutes earlier when I showed them the DVDs, with myer stickers, in a myer bag, with a myer receipt. The thing that I knew as soon as the gates beeped on my entry into David Jones. Sometimes other people’s security tags set off the David Jones gates.

Insightful. Thanks.

Image #1 Courtesy of Daquella manera

Image #2 Courtesy of SeeIt SnapIt


  1. Anonymous • October 2, 2011

    Lucky for David Jones they didn't take you to the holding room. That would have left them liable for false imprisonment and / or false arrest.

  2. dean livanos • December 28, 2011

    ^^^ not if he went their voluntarily, which is what most do when asked.

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