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Two Videos Show Us How NOT To Deal With Shoplifters

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Watching videos of robberies in California can be pretty depressing. Not only do we see a breakdown of the economy and the rule of law happening, but it just sucks to see value being taken from people who earned it (shareholders and/or people who pay insurance premiums) to people who didn’t. It’s unfair, it stinks and the people who do it seem to think society owes them luxury items like computers and phones.

But, sometimes I’m a little shocked at the comments I see on the interwebs. Some people think thieves should be shot dead on the scene, no questions asked and no opportunity to drop the property and flee. Others think that the punishments for shoplifting and robbery should be more extreme than you’d even see in red states. I know at least some of these comments are made in jest or out of frustration, but there are people who seem to love the idea of killing shoftlifters, and even openly fantasize about being the one to do it.

But, the reality of pulling a gun out to stop a shoplifter or even just following them can be a lot less glamorous, and two videos I’ve seen this week show us the perils that lie beneath the glossy veneer of hunting down humans.

Let’s start with the death of a shopkeeper in Houston, Texas:

As with all recent violent events, the details are always murky. Everyone’s innocent until proven guilty, so on and so forth. But, from what the witness says, a shop owner chased two shoplifters who stole a bag of chips, and ended up getting shot dead. The killer has been taken into custody, but now black community activists are rallying around the shooter, claiming that he fired in self-defense (a retelling of the events that a black witness disputes).

The store clerk can’t tell his side of the story, but the anonymous witness says that if he had it all to do over again, he’d stop the clerk from getting in his car to chase the thieves down. “It ain’t worth it, man.” he said.

Another attempt to stop thieves at a Lowes store in Massachusetts didn’t end in tragedy, but it easily could have:

In this case, the guy trying to stop shoplifters was a plainclothes police officer. The police officer says that suspects threatened him with a weapon, which led to him drawing his gun, but from my training, his behavior (getting close-in and trying to pull the guy from the car one-handed) doesn’t seem to indicate any fear of a weapon. But, if that is true, I sure as hell wouldn’t risk getting in close like that.

In this case, you can hear that the driver knows that the cop won’t shoot him, but ends up almost running him over, which could have resulted in a good shoot. But at the same time, it could have resulted in a dead police officer.

The Mill Of Justice

The important thing to keep in mind with situations like this is well-covered by an old saying: “The mill of justice grinds slowly, but it grinds extremely fine.”

The truth is that criminals often get away with crimes like shoplifting. Most people, including store employees, will make no attempt to stop them. This does result in some loss of property and profit, but it usually doesn’t result in people getting killed. It’s not the life of the robber that is protected with this restraint, but the life of the person who would take a risk to stop the thief.

But, don’t assume that this means they should get away with it. People who make a habit of stealing things eventually run out of luck. They leave behind evidence. They get stuck in traffic trying to run away from well-equipped uniformed police. They get hurt or killed by their fellow criminals. Justice won’t find them today, but it almost always does catch up with them sooner or later.

Personally, I’m a lot more concerned with getting home to my family than I am with the chips a convenience store might lose or some tool from Lowe’s. We need to keep our loved ones in mind first, always.

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