Steve Wright (
Wed, 05 Jun 1996 11:36:12 -1000

here is the article for which the 1995 editors of the LaTrobe University (Melbourne) student
paper _Rabelais_ face 6 years in prison or $72,000 in fines . . .

> Shoplifting is a topic that is practically relevant to many and it
> therefore should not become an exclusive craft confined to a small
> shoplifting elite. On the contrary, shoplifting is an art that
> deserves the widest possible dissemination. For your convenience we
> have printed below a step by step guide to shoplifting. Good Luck.
> Within capitalism, most of us are either (1) alienated from our
> labour and hence dependent on the ruling classes for commodities as
> basic as food and clothing, (2) excluded from the division of
> labour, in which case we are likewise dependant on the State, or (3)
> performing unpaid and/or unrecognised labour and hence dependent on
> patriarchal relations for food, clothing, etcetera. In any case, our
> access to resources is severely limited by contemporary relations of
> domination. One partial solution to this problem may be to STEAL.
> Sadly, however, many people living precariously on low incomes tend
> to either: (1) avoid shoplifting for anachronistic moral and/or
> ethical reasons; or (2) remain ignorant of the better methods and
> techniques of shoplifting, thus failing to maximise their lifting
> potential.
> From the onset, the golden rule of theft should be enunciated: NEVER
> kicking into a house on Bell Street with a beaten up Mazda in the
> yard is irresponsible and counter-revolutionary!
> Be careful, too, about taking stuff from small 'corner store' type
> shops - you could be ripping off someone in a situation not
> dissimilar to your own. On the whole, it is best to play it safe and
> go straight for the big corporate fuckers.
> Some people will suggest that shoplifters are a selfish breed, since
> 'we all pay for it in the end' through inflated prices to cover
> losses and so forth. However, comrades, this and closely analogous
> arguments are used to justify lowering wages, breeaking unions,
> lowering corporate taxation and taxation on the rich, etcetera. If
> we are going to accept the idea that we have an interest in
> maintaining the high profits of the rich and corporate sector we may
> as well sell ourselves into bonded slavery now, or join the Liberal
> Party.
> No, the injunction against stealing from capitalism is itself a
> capitalist ideology and should be spurned as such. Although we have
> been taught that 'thou shalt not steal,' an order historically
> backed by threats of divine retirbution, this should not stop us for
> one minute from taking the redistribution of wealth into out own
> hands. Believe me, no-one is likely to do it for us.
> What follows is a list of effective methods and observations that
> may prove useful.
> preparing oneself for the big haul
> 1. If possible, you should always have some money on you when
> intending to shoplift, because if you've got none, it's rather hard
> to argue that to steal the item was a spontaneous decision. As a
> result, if you've got no money and are caught shoplifting you are
> more likely to be charged for burglary as well as theft.
> 2. Buying something at the same time that you steal stuff doesn't
> necessarily ensure success. Appraoching staff for items that you are
> absolutely sure they don't have is just as good. Think of something
> that you know they don't have (ie, a doona cover with a specific
> pattern on it or something equally obscure) and pretend that you are
> looking for this, so that you have an excuse for being there. If
> staff are ever suspicious of you or ask if they can help, ask them
> if they have the thing that you are sure that they don't have. Never
> screw this up-if you do you will probably have to buy the item or
> they may realise that you are there to steal.
> 3. It is always a good idea to carry a bag although you should never
> stash anything in it - if security/sales staff are suss on you the
> first place that they'll check is your bag and it might just get you
> off the hook if they can't find anything suspicious inside of it.
> 4. Remember that there is no such thing as a standard store
> detective - there is no qualifying dress code, age, race, gender or
> class. Grandma will bust you this week and next week it'll be a five
> year old kid.
> 5. Just as there is no standard store detective nor is there a
> standard shoplifter. Security do not go looking for the poorly
> dressed people. They may pick on you out of boredom, but remember,
> only an unsuccessful store detective picks on poorly dressed people.
> By the same token don't believe the stale myth that suits and
> dresses = more successes; security anticipate that professional
> shoplifters will dress up a bit. Wear whatever you want.
> on entering the maze
> 1. As soon as you enter the store, suss out the sales people. First
> impressions often count here. You could find a valuable blind-eye
> turning ally in younger or less-affluent employees. Alternatively,
> an employee can often stand out as a more wishy-washy gullible
> individual -- so even if they see you they are likely to be too
> gutless to mention it, either to you or to security.
> 2. Don't be put off by signs such as 'shoplifters will be
> prosecuted' ot 'security police patrol this store.' Often this is
> just bluff anyway, and in any case there is no security measure that
> cannot be undone by a clever shoplifter or a quick talker. Do,
> however, keep your eye on security and be on the lookout for video
> surveillance cameras.
> 3. Try to find where the video surveillance monitors are and who is
> watching them; often they are not even looking at them. See if you
> can get a galnce at their monitor. Often it is one monitor hooked up
> to 20 cameras which changes sequentially (every 30 seconds or so).
> Other times its one guy in a room looking at 50 screens while
> reading the paper or glued to the box. These monitors are usually
> pretty small and have a wide apperture, showing more of the room but
> not enough detail to adequately show what you are up to.
> 4. It is a good idea to keep your back to the camera as much as
> possible without looking suspicious. Checkout cameras (hold-up
> cameras) are often set up to check on employees, so they are not
> hard to keep your back turned to.
> blind spots and other lifting techniques
> 1. A blind spot is a section of the store where you are barely
> visible and can thus feel free to both dump and collect stuff,
> without fear of being seen. Display units can make perfect
> blind-spots - they ensure security is confident they have their eye
> on you, when in fact they can only see your top half - at the same
> time they enable you to keep your eye on security. For these
> reasons, the best blind-spots are usually below the chest - around
> waist high. Blind-spots are good for loading into the lip of you
> jeans or into a jacket.
> 2. Make sure your blind spot is not under surveillance. Never hang
> around your blind spot for too long. Most of all, be careful never
> to lead security to your blind spot.
> 3. A good method is to take everything you want to your blind-spot
> and collect it all later in one go, or better still get someone else
> to collect it for you. Getting someone else to collect it for you
> can be a great system, particularly with exchanges- which I'll come
> to later. If you are really pedantic, or you think that they are
> watching you, then load up, go to the toilets and pass the stuff
> under the wall/petition of the cubicle to a waiting friend in an
> adjoining cubicle and get them to leave with it.
> 5. Speaking of dunnies and change rooms, one of the oldest tricks in
> the book is to put more than one garment on a hanger (works
> particularly well with women's underwear), go to the change rooms
> and put the garment underneath what you are wearing. Alternatively,
> if you are a woman, you can slip your old bra on a hanger and put on
> the new one. Don't be put off by the staff as you enter the
> change-rooms - they are usually quite disinterested and so long as
> you the number of hangers you exit with matches the little plastic
> number they've given you they'll be satisfied.
> 6. On the subject of women's underwear, the lingerie department is
> ideaally suited to male shoplifters - not only is it the perfect
> excuse for looking embarassed or suspicious (they have come to
> expect this), but staff are less likely to harass you by trying to
> help you and will be more sympathetic generally.
> exchanging crap for more crap
> Exchanging things - that is, taking the redistribution of wealth
> into your own hands by refunding yourself for an item you never paid
> for, swapping something you don't want for something you do want, or
> swapping something you don't want that is unstealable and is
> therefore refundable - is a whole new ball game.
> 1. If you plan to steal something and then make an exchange always
> take stuff that people are likely to take back like sheets, or other
> obscure household items. If questioned you can say to them "as if
> I'm gonna keep the receipt, I didn't plan to bring it back." Books
> and other small but expensive items such as computer software are
> also great exchangeables.
> 2. Stealing women's underwear and cosmetics are the perfect alibi
> for male shoplifters who specialise in exchanges. Male customers
> always fuck up buying stuff for their girlfriends/wives/mothers and
> when it comes to lingerie, it's just too easy for a guy to look
> goofy, have sales staff sympathise and all too quickly agree to
> exchange or refund the items. This works particularly well around
> Xmas time when you can tell them you bought it for your mother but
> she already had that one.
> 3. Never take an exchange item to the store you stole it from and
> make sure the other store (ie, Myers in Doncaster as opposed to
> Northland) has the same item before you take it back.
> 4. Make sure you have chosen your item before you approach anyone
> for an exchange. Also, tell the people in the first department that
> you want an exchange without mentioning receipts - they should send
> you down to the appropriate department for your other item and then
> ring up this other department providing a referral, which if you are
> lucky will mean you do not have to provide a receipt given that
> everything appears legitimate.
> 5. The first time you exchange a stolen item for another product
> make sure you get something unstealable in return, like a video,
> waatch, or something else kept behind a counter, so that the second
> time you do it, even if you don't get an exchange receipt they will
> not suspect that it is stolen.
> 6. Exchange receipts are a pain in the arse. Sometimes smart arse
> sales people will write across the original docket 'no original
> receipt' which is a problem, so if you have a bit of money on you,
> it is a good idea to exchange for something that costs a little bit
> more so that they have to give you a cash receipt.
> 7. Don't freak out if they call security while you are acting out an
> exchange - as returns will often require security's signature this
> is quite standard procedure and nothing to worry about.
> 8. If you're having problems getting an exchange, big department
> stores usually have consumer rights people located upstairs
> somewhere - they can usually be contacted by information telephones.
> These are people with big egos who like to wield power and the sales
> staff, who are much lower down the hierarchy, are usually pretty
> freaked out by this power. If you do get the ego from upstairs on
> side, they will organise a sales person to look after you and after
> the egomaniac go upstairs again, they sure will - because the sales
> person does not want to be reprimanded by the same person from
> upstairs more than once, you will be practically able to get them to
> do anything that you want them to. A good technique is to tell the
> sales person upstairs a different story to the one that you tell the
> sales person. You can get angry at this stage and tell them that
> they fucked you around, that you don't want an exchange anymore and
> that you want a refund now and they will usually comply.
> 9. be wary of the long term employee - you've got to know when to
> stop. Be particularly wary of the head of sales or middle management
> who have been working there for a long time (sometimes 20 years or
> more) and are not as scared of the big guys from upstairs as are the
> newer employees. You can often convince some of the younger staff
> that they are allowed to do refunds if you tell them you used to
> work there.
> 10. Another commonly used technique is to take an empty bag from the
> same store with a receipt in it for previously paid for items and
> then nick the same stuff, which gives you the perfect alibi.
> 11. Better still, if you've got some money, find two things that are
> worth however much you've got, take them out of the store and stash
> them somewhere, then go back in and buy the exact same items. While
> leaving the chackout, make a big deal about it. "Am I doing the
> right thing? Will she like it? Will it fit him? etcetera" and then
> "what the heck!" Make sure you don't go overboard and push them to
> mentioning keeping the receipt or worst of all mention it yourself.)
> Pay for it. About half an hour to a couple of hours later (not too
> long) take the stuff back to the same sales people and they'll
> ussually give you cash without a receipt because they remember
> selling it to you. If you pull it off you've got a cash receipt and
> your stolen goods which you can exchange at another store.
> leaving the store safely
> 1. Always double back just as you are about to leave the store so
> that you can check if anyone is following you (99.9% of the time
> they will follow you out of the store before they approach you).
> Alternatively, go up and down an escalator or in a lift and press
> every button in the lift and it will be obvious if anyone is
> following you.
> 2. If people are watching you, whatever you do, do not try to
> discreetly dump stuff unless you are absolutely sure you can get
> away with it. If caught dumping stuff they usually won't charge you
> but they may fuck you around for a few hours.
> 3. If you are caught dumping never let a store detective know it was
> because of the. Always make out it was a result of a sudden guilty
> conscience. Never let a store detective know that you know that they
> are onto you, because they won't put them on you the next time. That
> way you get to know the store security and are able to keep an eye
> on them as much as you can.
> 4. If you want to have a bit of fun and don't plan to continue
> shoplifting that day, or ever or you just don't give a shit, go up
> to a store detective and treat them like a sales person, asking them
> for help etcetera. It is just as embarassing for them to be caught
> as it is for you. It is always a good thing to break their spirits
> or at least bring them down every now and again. Alternatively, use
> reverse psychology on them. Say "I'm going down to such and such
> department. I'll see you down there". Often they'll be too
> embarassed that they've been busted and think that you won't do it
> now that you're being waatched and you will have the run of the
> mill.
> 5. NEVER GET TOO CONFIDENT or you will start to make silly mistakes.
> the end
> Finally, if you do get caught - lie your teeth out! Never admit to
> premeditation. Always say that the opportunity arose, so you took
> it. Don't act tough or be a smart arse. Cry. Bawl. Admit a guilty
> conscience. Beg them not ot call the cops. Tell them that CSV will
> take your kids off you and then weep.
> Even though some stores say they have a policy to call the police it
> is not necessarily true and they may, after lots of admissions of
> guilt, just get you to sign a statement which says you'll never
> enter that store again. If the cops do arrive, it's a good idea to
> act scared shitless because they may assume you're a first offender
> and not bother to check your record. Don't antagonise the filth - it
> is their personal discretion as to how bad you get busted.
> You are most likely to be charged with 'theft' if caught
> shoplifting, but you can be charged with 'burglary' as well if you
> don't have any money on you. 'Equipped to steal' is what you will be
> charged with if, for example. you have a slit in the lining of your
> jacket for concealing stolen goods. 'Obtaining financial advantage'
> and 'deception' are what you are likely to be charged with as well
> as 'theft', if caught exchanging stolen items
> Carmen Lawrence, with thanks to Joshuah and Destroyer 267
> reprinted from Rabelais, published by the La Trobe University
> Students' Representative Council, July 1995.