When people think of larceny cases in North Carolina, auto theft or burglary may most often come to mind. However, shoplifting costs retailers like Walmart millions of dollars every year. In a Business Insider article, one man shared the work experience of his late wife, who worked in loss prevention for Walmart for seven years. Her job was to patrol the stores in plain clothes, looking for alleged thieves. She was later promoted to a supervisor of people who carried out this role.
He reported that his wife caught two to three shoplifters weekly, but that there were other workers who caught two to three in a day. The main indicator she found behind why specific Walmart stores were targeted was the size. She also identified three main types of non-employees who took store items:
- Some people took low-cost items, with pregnancy tests being the most frequently targeted. People would use them in the bathrooms and then discard them.
- Other people took items from the store and then returned them later on for cash refunds. These items were usually small but costly.
- Finally, there were people who belonged to a ring. The most memorable one involved senior citizens, who were all neighbors. One would take an item and someone else would return it for a cash refund. Some rings sold their goods to other stores, while some goods even ended up in meth labs.
According to CNBC, one way that Walmart addresses accusations of shoplifting is to give people the choice between being reported to the police or taking expensive classes. Three people who were accused of shoplifting in 2017 in Georgia, Florida and Texas, claimed Walmart engaged in nationwide extortion based on these classes. However, the federal judge who took the case dismissed the racketeering lawsuit involving not just Walmart but six other retailers who also turned to expensive “restorative justice” classes.
For reasons not identified in the article, in December of 2017, Walmart stopped using these Corrective Education classes. However, it is highly likely that loss prevention personnel are still prowling retail stores looking for shoplifters.