I saw it, and so did my team lead. And we kind of both looked at each other. My team leader was like, “Did you check her out?” I was cashiering and I was like, “No.” And so my team lead ended up running outside and asked the woman for her receipt. And the woman was like, “Oh, I didn’t get a receipt.” My team lead was like, “Well, why don’t you come back inside with me, and we’ll find the receipt online just to make sure.”
She came back in with the cart full of groceries, and then left it inside and just walked out. We didn’t do anything. I honestly felt bad because it was this older woman, and it wasn’t like she was buying really materialistic stuff. It wasn’t like face masks or whatever, it was necessities. Like, she needed food.
Would you have done anything different if your team lead wasn’t there?
I don’t think I would’ve told anyone. Whole Foods is a multi-billion dollar business, and it’s connected with Amazon. I don’t care about us losing a small amount of stuff. We donate so much food at the end of each day. If something is slightly damaged, we will donate it. And in my head, I see shoplifting as just another donation to someone who obviously really needs it.
What are the most common ways people seem to steal things?
A couple weeks ago, this guy had stuff in a basket and I saw him kind of hide behind something and move the groceries into his backpack. He just put the basket back and walked out. I see people put things into pockets and hide items in bigger purses or tote bags. I’ve also seen people put some things in their pockets or bags and still pay for a couple things. We don’t have detectors at the doors, so it’s really easy to steal things here. It’s a lot easier than it is at other stores.
What kinds of foods are stolen most often?
So, that one instance where it was the older woman with the shopping cart, she pretty much got her groceries for two weeks. A lot of times, I’ll see staples like peanut butter and jelly, or bread. Tuna’s a big one. Which to me, if you’re stealing tuna, you really need to eat. I hate tuna; it’s nasty. I’ve also seen people take chips and rice. Those single-serve yogurts. Really, anything. But it’s usually smaller things rather than a big family-sized item.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen cookies get stolen or anything like that. It’s more like actual food, not so much the snacky stuff. In the area I live in, we have a really underserved community nearby. I feel a lot of empathy towards people who are in need of food. It’s one thing when someone steals some Dior perfume. But if I see someone stealing a dozen eggs, I just choose to look the other way.
You mentioned the lady with the grocery cart was older. Is there a general age range for people who are shoplifting at your store?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone my age or younger shoplift. Of course there are outliers, but the majority of shoplifters I see are between their late-20s and early-40s.