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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shop Lifters, Fangs And Talons

Recently I have become too aware of a lesser type of shopper. Yes, the infamous shop lifter. An item was taken from one of the lovely shops that sell my jewelry, and then recently from a fair where I was selling directly.

I refuse to be a victim! I refuse to not make and sell jewelry! So I have asked myself what I can do to empower myself and to discourage shop lifting. I would love to hear from you with your ideas, so they can be shared with our other jewelry making friends.

One question I had for myself is what makes a person become a shoplifter? By understanding their thinking and value system it will hopefully help in planning a strategy to lower the rate of theft. I wish I could say eliminate, but I don't think this is possible. If it were possible then the department stores out there wouldn't have security cameras, silent shoppers and security guards. Ugh!

When jewelry is on display in a gift shop, sometimes the shop keeper is occupied with a customer or is busy stocking and organizing. I had placed a lovely crystal and silver bracelet on a small display. It looked very attractive here and easy to remove. I thought the ease to remove would encourage someone to try it on.

This is the display, but not the vanishing bracelet
 I guess I was successful, because it remained on the wearer as it went out the door without being paid for. So heartbreaking in so many ways! The time spent to select the crystals and focal component; then to design, construct, photograph, price, inventory, promote and display the bracelet. Then add the cost of the materials.

I think there are two types of shop lifters. The first one is the amateur. The second one is the professional.

The amateur shop lifter steals on a whim. Perhaps they do it just because they want it or because it looks easy. This may have been the type of person who took the bracelet mentioned above. It was flashy, it was easy to remove from the display and the shop keeper wasn't near the display. So, perhaps they tried it on and kept it on. It’s as if they have an image in their head of the Staples “Easy” button. I need to stop making it easy!

Source:  Staple.com
The professional shop lifter is conscious of what they are doing. It’s planned and deliberate. They have developed a tactic, a procedure and they get some sort of thrill or satisfaction from this act, or more.

At the recent art and craft fair I experienced the professional shop lifter. I was amazed and shocked. I wonder what I should have said to her as I actually watched her in action. It was obvious to her that I was there and that I could see her every move. I was a mere 3 or 4 feet in front of her. I even spoke with her by introducing myself and letting her know that I was available if she had any questions. I then watched and was ‘alerted’ as she dropped the bracelet ‘by accident’ onto the floor.

Source:  Bill Engvall.com

While picking the bracelet up she ‘straightened’ her large open purse.  There were papers sticking out of it.  Then there was a second drop to the floor.  I have to say that I froze with shock!  It was so surreal.  This couldn’t be happening in front of my eyes!  I think my emotions jolted and caused me not to react.  While I stood there in my daze she walked away and there was no bracelet!  Now how do I prove this?  What should I do?  The polite lady that some of you know as Linda felt the vampire fangs extend, the finger nails turn into talons and the adrenalin surge!  Not so nice words formed in my head! Then I thought better.  This would not serve me personally.  It wouldn’t serve my professional image.  And perhaps this is exactly what she was looking for.  Perhaps she needed or wanted my anger to validate her dysfunctional mentality.  Hey!  I watch ‘Criminal Minds’ on TV!

What I don't understand is why the unsub didn't take the matching earrings. (source: CriminalMinds.com)
Have you seen anyone wearing this bracelet? (source: CriminalMinds.com)

Where is the bracelet? (source:  CriminalMinds.com)
Do you promise never to shop lift again? (source: CriminalMinds.com)
So, I have asked myself: How could I have stopped or discouraged this from happening? From now on if I’m not present to watch over my creations it will be displayed on a velvet board with security pins, sitting up on an easel. With a sign that says something like: "I would love for you to allow our shop keeper let you try on any piece of jewelry".
At fairs I will need to be on alert. Perhaps the less expensive, less time consuming bracelets will be easy to try on and the more expensive will be secured with a pin. When I see someone drooling over a piece of jewelry I will smile and offer that they try it on.
Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.

Oscar Wilde

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Mahatma Gandhi

Let us forgive each other – only then will we live in peace.

Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Thank you all or visiting. ~ Linda


  1. Linda, I am so sorry this happened to you not once, but twice recently! How horrible, just the thought of it. But the expense and time it took you to create those pieces. I CANNOT believe the nerve of the lady at the craft show. I'm not sure how I would have handled it, but I do think i would have had to approach her. It is a tricky situation, but still! I'm sorry this took place though.
    On a positive note, how wonderful that you reconnected with an old friend at the show! What a heartwarming story. I hope the two of you can reconnect now and enjoy years of friendship ahead! :-)

  2. Cindy, Thank you for your thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately these things happen.


Thank you for your kind words. I'll answer any of your questions very soon. Linda