Shoplifting and a Moment of Desperation

Walgreens employees empty the suspect's purse.

I walked into the Walgreens at 23rd and Mission streets Thursday at 9:25 a.m. to get some plastic cups to find two men and two women walking backwards toward me, trying to block a young woman from leaving.

The young woman looked as if she was in her 20s — her hair was tied back, her frame small, her dress jeans and a sweater. One of the crew from Walgreens had the woman’s black jacket and purse.

Earlier, an employee had seen the young woman allegedly shoplifting toiletries and approached her, according to the manager Edwin Perez.

It was unclear how they managed to get the suspect’s jacket and purse, but at the moment I walked in, the young woman was looking between the woman who held her purse and the automatic doors. She opted for the latter. The employees did not get physical and so the young suspect walked out easily.

Seconds later, she returned. It was almost as if she thought, I can’t just leave my purse there.

It quickly became clear that the Walgreens’ workers were not going to hand to it over. The manager said they were calling the police.

The young woman had no choice. She left. When I tried to find her outside, she was no longer around the store. I returned to watch the employees pulling items from the woman’s purse. There appeared to be little of much value, but I may have missed some of them, it was hard to see and no one was talking.

Why write about this? I suppose it was the look on the young woman’s face and a desperation that made her return. Yes, it is both stupid and wrong to shoplift, but also terrible to realize that one’s identity is in a purse that will soon be turned over to the police.

Filed under: Mobile, Today's Mission, Trouble

6 Comments

  1. Mission resident

    ” Yes, it is both stupid and wrong to shoplift, but also terrible to realize that one’s identity is in purse that will soon be turned over to the police.”

    This is a shocking statement. Are you saying that when someone is caught stealing, they shouldn’t be turned in to the police? You actually published this statement. I guess you also think stores shouldn’t charge for their goods and should just give everything away. Lydia Chavez, I’d really like to hear your explanation. What would you prefer the Walgreens employees to do?

    • ThatGuy

      Agreed. Pathetic.

    • Avatar of Lydia Chávez Lydia Chávez Post author

      Mission resident, no I am not saying that at all and sorry for any confusion. The employees did what they should do and were not aggressive with the suspect in any way. I was trying to illustrate what must have been the contradicting emotions of the suspect. Why else would a suspect return to the store? She desperately wanted to have her purse, but she also knew that would not happen.The employees did not have to say anything to her. Best, Lydia

      • John

        I would guess that the store staff, upon suspecting the theft, demanded to search the most obvious places to hide the stolen items, which were the jacket and the purse.

        Once they had those, however, they also had power over the girl, both because she wanted her possessions back and because there was some ID in there.

        The Muni police adopt the same tactic when detaining someone riding without proof of payment. They immediately ask for a DL or other ID. Once they have that, they know who you are and they have a hold over you, deterring you from trying to flee the scene and a citation.

        Once this girl knew the store had her ID, there was in fact little point in leaving since the cops can pick her up later and fleeing the scene like that probably adds to the charges and the sentence. But people don’t act rationally under pressure.

        I do not criticize you for evidently showing some compassion towards the suspect. But if it had instead been a young male, would that same empathy have been missing?

  2. Mission resident

    I’d also like to add, no one ever gets caught the first time they steal. Ask any ex-con. Generally speaking, most criminals that are caught have already done that crime many times before. They usually only get caught once they get too comfortable breaking the law.

  3. NFS

    A charge of Shoplifting can only be applied once an individual has left the front doors of the establishment, despite still being on owner or leased property. That said, in all states but Louisiana, ANY individual has the right to arrest someone in the commission of a crime; e.g. the employees or the author would have been within their rights to arrest the women had she walked out the door with goods from the institution.

    However, to state that the “…young woman had no choice”., seemingly belies the author’s condonement of the alleged shoplifter’s actions. I wonder how Ms. Chavez would react should her own personal belongings be stolen? We she simply condone it?

    Somehow, I doubt it.

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