whether it's the economy, the need for instant gratification, or simply human nature, people's fingers have gotten stickier than ever. We spoke with three anonymous "loss prevention officers," who are in charge of stopping these petty (but shockingly frequent) crimes. Here's the horrors they've discovered about humanity:
  1. Changing rooms have cameras.
    For shoplifters, changing rooms are famously hide-the-stolen-booty rooms, so in most places the store's secretly watching you there. And yes, it's perfectly legal in most cases -- only 13 US states forbid monitoring customers in dressing rooms.
  2. Everyone steals.
    One of our sources says it's "kids, teenagers, adults, and old people. Your 86-year-old grandmother is probably stealing. We usually ask what the motive was for shoplifters, and for older customers, it's usually just because they wanted to. I've seen people steal, only for them to pull out $100 bills and ask if they can still pay for it."
  3. Employees steal too.
    Of the three undercovers in our store, one's only job was to catch employees guilty of theft. He'd sit down in front of the guilty-ish party with a stack of video tapes and start making claims that we knew they'd stolen 'X' amount of goods, based on their time with us. The tapes are just a tool to look intimidating. The goal was to get them to admit to stealing and sign a promissory note to pay X dollars to the store to make it right."
  4. No one cares about the little thefts.
    "The dollar amount of what is being stolen must be over a certain range, or it's not worth it. For our store, that amount was $20, and if was under that amount, it wasn't worth the store's time for us to get involved. If someone is stealing $10 worth of stuff, and it takes two hours for cops to show up ... why would we bother?"
  5. Shoplifters are basically uncatchable.
    "In order to make an arrest, there were five things we had to see," says another of our sources. "And it's legal to shove merchandise in your pockets if you don't leave the store. It's tough to catch someone under those rules."