What makes people steal…or not steal? The answer to this, and many other questions, await you in a new training video!

Temptations, and Previously On Pop Culture Retrorama…

To Steal, Or Not To Steal…that is the temptation.  Or not.  Depends on the factors (something readily available to steal, and the opportunity to steal that something), and if you like to live dangerously.  There’s also if stealing and shoplifting is a hobby, or a career.  Many factors exist in the very idea of shoplifting, and my latest find in amazing retro new hire trainings aims to explain shoplifting in a way the previous training videos have not.

This time around, we’re going to work for Woolworth’s, the OG “Five-and-Dime” retailer that from 1879 until its end in 1997, when the corporate name was changed to Venator, and later, in 2001 to Foot Locker (yes – that Foot Locker).

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Woolworth’s operated freestanding, mall, and strip mall locations both here and internationally (some of those international locations still operate today), and sold all the goods you’d come to expect from chain retailers of a similar nature (think Bradlees, Kmart, Zayre, Ames).  They do have several training videos on YouTube, but this was the first one I found, and well, it is one in starkest contrast to the other ones I’ve seen.

This video doesn’t resort to upbeat Muzak or employees and their bad acting skills – heck, Jewel’s Own Joan isn’t even here to (mis)guide you.  There’s no singing hamburgers, hot drinks, cold drinks, or singing “Grandmas” to explain fitting room guidelines.  Even flim-flam doesn’t have a place in today’s training video, and forget your Hardee’s reputation – even Hope can’t help you here!

Oh no, this one is going for the gritty with its approach to schoolin’ the new hires.

But before we get to the schoolin’, I’ve got someone for you to meet…

Dick Deal, Professional Shoplifter…For Woolworth’s!

Yes, that is his real name, and his real (former) profession.  This video gets right to the point, and not the flowery, Muzak-y, dripping with Southern Charm and Midwestern Appeal that all of the other videos demonstrated.

Mr. Deal is a former professional shoplifter of 20 years, but has never stolen from Woolworth’s.  He’s been in prison five times, for a total of fifteen years.  None of those times were for shoplifting charges.  He knows every way to get over on store employees, doesn’t discriminate against the type of retailer location (freestanding, strip mall, enclosed mall), and knows the ins and outs of his chosen profession.

What happens in this video is not the re-enactment and demonstrative style that other videos – even loss prevention training videos – cover.  This video shows raw, black-and-white surveillance video of actual incidents of shoplifting happening at various Woolworth’s locations between September and November 1988.

Theft On the Sales Floor

Mr. Deal provides commentary on the style of the shoplifters – which ones are professional, the “dance” shoplifters do, the way the shoplifter looks around, hides in opportunistic areas (for example, behind a badly placed display), using stolen items to hide more items, families who shoplift together, and so on and so forth.  The video is the harsh realization that shoplifting is happening right in the open, filmed for eagle-eyed loss prevention staff to see.

Deal also discusses his time working with the court system in pre-trial intervention for supposed first-time shoplifters, asking each individual facing trial two questions:

When did you decide to steal?

What made you decide to take the item that you have taken?

(Answers to these questions are within the video)

Theft Happens Everywhere…Even At the Register!

“The one cashier didn’t know what was going on.  And he thinks Botany 500 is a race.”

Watch enough daytime talk and game shows, and you’ll know that reference.  That, my friends, is why I love nostalgia so much – those little esoteric references that go right over the heads of the not targeted audience!

Man, I can just hear the Family Feud and The Price is Right theme songs when I hear “Botany 500.”

Anyway, theft at the register…

Deal does not hold back on how he feels about employees allowing theft to happen at the registers.  Obviously, this is a man who knows the tricks, has done them all many times, and – amazingly enough – never got caught in the act, yet it galls him to see employees participating in theft.

I mean, look at the amount registered versus actual value…

And after all of this, after everything we’re shown, there is one thing that has prevented our educational friend from shoplifting…

“May I help you?”

Not Caught in the Act at Woolworth’s

Friends, this video is a real eye-opener.  There is nothing to laugh at here.  No terrible acting, no customers creating annoying situations for our hard-working employees (and vice versa), and above all, no music, 1980s special effect wipes, or any of the glorious aspects the other training videos I’ve detailed lovingly over the last eight months exist within this eighteen minute video.

It is not light, it is not fun, and quite frankly, it really wants you to take the concept of shoplifting and loss prevention very seriously.

Even the title cards don’t mess around.

Once you get past his name.

Because you’re still a new hire, and your soul hasn’t been crushed by working in the retail and service industry.

Yet.

Watch Woolworth’s Attempt “To Catch A Shoplifter”

This video is on YouTube, as well as archive.org, and at eighteen minutes, it is slightly longer than the previous trainings we’ve watched, but it is very interesting in a different way.

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Like videos teenagers watch in school about pregnancy, this may this scare have scared someone out of a potentially bad situation.

Because a security camera is always watching you do “the dance.”

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