The Other Shoplifter

It’s difficult to be comfortable with a knee on your neck and your cheek on the pavement. The shrieks spilling into the city centre streets told of indignation. He would wake with the next morning with knee marks on his chest, legs and neck. Whether he woke up in a cell or on the street would be up to him, but the sounds he’s making do not add up to promising.

Shops are organised these days. Security staff, sometimes disguised as shoppers and sometimes as Rambo addicts patrol the aisles and talk to each other with walkie-talkies that squawk at the approach of the familiar suspects.

The bronzed face and neck is a giveaway. The scrawny frame adds a clue. A certain stench warns the wary nose. The screwed-up face: insular and wary with eyes that see threats everywhere, is definitely one to watch for. And then there’s the street uniform: baggy, grimy and careless of style.

It seems ridiculous that anyone like that could imagine getting away with shoplifting. And yet, there’s hunger that must be rubbed. A belly that must be filled. And so …

I laughed when I heard the story about the young man who staggered out of the pub, stumbled his way to the car, singing all the way and then turned the key, roared the engine, whipped around the car park twice before screeching off down the road at a speed of a little under 30mph.

When the police car, that had been waiting outside the pub, caught him at the end of the road and pulled him over he wound down his window and said ‘hello, how can I help?’

The police officer said ‘can you step out of the vehicle, sir?’

He did. Then he looked back up the road towards the pub and watched as a half dozen cars pulled slowly out of the car park and sedately, carefully drove off in the other direction.

When they were out of sight, he turned his head towards the police officer and carefully, with no sudden movements, handed over the card he had been holding in his hand.

With a twinkle in his eyes he said ‘Sean Smythe – Professional Decoy. Please to meet you, officer.’

You can probably figure out the rest.

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