Browsing through Reddit the other day, I ran into a Til (Today I Learned) that said Target has a top rated forensic law in Las Vegas and Minneapolis used to solve retail crimes committed at Target stores. They also handle felony, homicide and special circumstances cases for law bureaus that need the extra manpower, facilities, resources and time, free of charge. That alone I found very interesting, but when I went into the comments section of the post, I found a personal experience of such department by someone. I wanted to share the story of a man with an addiction, his encounter with Target’s forensics department, and how he turned his life around.
So, at a different point in my life I had a serious drug problem and my main source of income was shoplifting Blu-Rays which I would fence to a used game store. During a ~4month period I stole about $15k worth of Blu-Rays from a single Target location. There was no magic to it, I’d walk in and fill a hand basket with new releases and walk out the door. I’d run to my car and drive away, and towards the end I would basically fast-walk through the parking lot, they will not chase you out of the store. I didn’t take any measures to disguise myself, and I drove away in a car which was registered in my name – albeit to the address I had during college in a different state.
After several months of this (I also used to frequent Walmarts and Blockbusters (dating myself!)) I left my apartment and drove about 25 minutes to my usual Target. I went in early, it was around 8:30am. I followed my usual method of filling a basket and went to leave the store. I got through the first set of doors and as I went to leave the terminal doors two guys stepped in and addressed me by name and told me to stop. I made a half hearted struggle and just gave up.
These were two guys from the higher level of Target loss prevention. Not only did they know my name, they knew my apartment and started asking me specific questions about who else lived there “who drives the silver car that was there this morning”. They had actually watched my apartment that day and followed me from my door step to the store in order to catch me in the act. They also knew the store I sold the discs too, and asked me some general questions about that process.
I was pretty impressed, there was some serious detective work going on by Target. I was a bit uncomfortable that they were literally staking out my house, but as I mentioned at that point this was a huge source of loss for them.
I want to say that they gave me something I did not see much of during that time period – respect. They recognized that I did this to feed an addiction, not because I was a worthless person. I showed them respect and they were really very good to me. They actually asked me what I did with the hand baskets… I told them I threw them out of my car window and the guy said “ah man those are like $60 a piece!” and we shared a laugh. It was the last time I stole from Target, though I wish I could say the last time I stole in general. No other retailer made this kind of effort, Target was really invested in finding me. I was processed for Grand Larceny and afforded a continuance from the state, after a year of good behavior the incident was off my record. I THOUGHT that was the end of my experience with Target.
On a longer timeline… I left the state about three months after this happened. Eventually I was able to get clean and returned to the state of the Target thefts about 2.5 years later. I was now properly employed and a contributing member of society again, so I registered to vote. Three weeks later the police arrived at my work and I was informed I had 7 outstanding larceny warrants. During my time out of state Target and the police had finally crunched through all of their information on me and assembled evidence of at least 7 larcenies for which I could be charged. I got a packet in the mail that was inches thick, with some wonderful pictures of me, my car, and my old apartment.
Long story short, with the help of a lawyer I was able to show the state that these crimes were committed years ago by a drug addict. I was able to show them my history since then and my accomplishments and all 7 charges were dropped outright. I still have the packet of information from Target, and occasionally I look at the pictures and remind myself where I came from. I can’t even imagine shoplifting now, it’s really surreal.
So; Target is voracious in their pursuance of high level shoplifting. Their guys are dedicated and pretty intense, but in my experience not bad people. Don’t shoplift that makeup, they may watch where you sleep!
Also, never forget that people can change. Including you, or your friends or family members who might be struggling. I was a career shoplifter and speedball shooter. Four years later I own a home, am married, and have a very good career. Amazing what is possible when your mind is clear.
I still shop at that Target occasionally , but it’s kind of hard. I feel watched (and may very well be) but I also start to sweat and my heart rate increases and it’s still a flood of memories. Every time I go in there I think about the loss prevention guys and would like to see them again and show them how I am doing.
Edit: I’ve been on here a while and wondered if I’d ever get gold, glad someone found it interesting! I actually texted my wife and told her I saw this thread and was feeling a bit depressed afterward. I don’t talk about this stuff much, very mixed emotions. I’m not necessarily ashamed of it but I struggle with the thoughts and memories it evokes. Every year brings new perspective on this stuff. I think the most important thing that I can say to people is that you can never assume what people have been through.
The worst ones were a pretty dramatic chase through a blockbuster parking lot and a failed escape attempt from walmart which included a can of wasp killer haha. Now I worry about getting home from work in time to catch the dump. Life is different!