92 - Sting

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You watch the young woman snapping tags off of eighty dollar pairs of jeans. She notices you watching her; she looks you directly in the eye and flashes you a toothy grin. You are filled with rage and start to walk towards her when the operation commander’s voice buzzes in your earbud.

“Negative, Jones! Do not attempt to apprehend!”

You stop in your tracks and whisper into your microphone. “Damn it, captain, I’m tired of watching this bitch clean us out day after day! I’m taking her down.”

“Jones, you’re about to blow a eight-month Loss Prevention investigation. Do not engage. I swear to god I if you fuck this up I’ll have your nametag!”

You take a deep breath and let it out slowly. You know the captain is right. You’ve been tracking these shoplifters for the better part of a year, during your investigation you’ve found they’ve been responsible for over thirty thousand in losses from denim alone, ten from wovens, god only knows how much from knits. It’s one of the biggest organized retail crime operations the Thift-E-Fashion team has ever seen.

“She’s a small fry, Jones. You know who we’re trying to get to.”

Of course you do. The shoplifting kingpin of western Peoria. Supposedly, no one’s ever seen his face, but he’s the most ruthless retail thief you’ve ever heard of, and he’s got practically an army of sticky-fingered kleptomaniacs at his disposal. Your team hasn’t uncovered his real name yet, only what they call him on the street: Denim Dan.

“ You can engage, but remember – only give excellent customer service.”

Damn it. You feel like you could do so much more if it weren’t for all the god damned rules. Sometimes you think Thrift-E’s corporate policy does more to protect the criminals than stop them. Stuff like this makes a good Loss Prevention Specialist want to go bad.

You straighten your cable-knit sweater and calmly approach the shoplifter. You can barely hold back your anger when you speak to her, and you’re almost talking through your teeth.

“Hello, welcome to Thrift-E-Mart! I’m Shirley, what can I help you find today?”