A Little Secret: Shoplifters Can Ignore Exit Alarms

but they debase honest shoppers as well as our freedom

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading on shoplifting ever since my Assemblywoman, Mary Hayashi, was arrested and then convicted for stealing over $2,445  in merchandize from Neiman Marcus.  I wanted to understand what made her do it, and at some point I will write about it.

But in researching shoplifting techniques, I found quite a few threads about the electronic/magnetic anti-theft tags that are now put on products of all kinds, from books to electronics (though items of clothing use a different kind).  There are actually several types of these, some hidden within the products.   They are made so that they will be detected by sensors near the exit, which will be if the tag is activated.   When you purchase the product, the checker deactivates it to avoid the beeping.  Shoplifters, as you can expect, try to remove these tags and avoid the beep.  They shouldn’t bother.

The problem with these systems is that they are not sophisticated.  They are often, if not always, calibrated in a way that is not exclusive to the tags used by a given store – so they will be beep if you pass the sensors with an active tag from a product that you bought elsewhere.  Moreover, the deactivation process doesn’t always work, so the sensors may beep when you go by with a product you have actually purchased.  Stores know this, and while they may request patrons to stop (though this is rare), they won’t force the issue.  What generally happens is that the honest shoppers (and inexperienced shoplifters) will stop to have their bags searched.

It may be that these devices deter shoplifting by incompetent shoplifters (which may be a good thing if it stops potential shoplifters from trying it in the first place), but they also present an inconvenience to shoppers.  For one, the implication is that all shoppers may be shoplifters, a “guilty until proven innocent” philosophy which is both baseless and dangerous in what should be a free society.  For another, it embarrasses honest shoppers publicly, as many people do interpret the “beep” as evidence of shoplifting.  Moreover, it makes shoppers waste time.  Needless to say, I disapprove of these devices just as much as of having “greeters” demand to see your receipt and bags when you exit a store.  I’m writing this article to let you know that you too, my honest reader, can just ignore them.

I have a friend that has the same philosophy but is a little more daring than I.  He took one of these devices that had not been deactivated and placed it in his wallet.  Pretty much every time he goes into and out of a store the device makes the sensors beep.  Sometimes he getslooks from the sellers or guards, but never once has he been stopped.  Stopping him, after all, might make the store liable for a claim of false imprisonment.  While stores have a “merchant privilege” of stopping you if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that you have stolen something, the sensors have too many false-positives to make any suspicion reasonable.

There is actually a protocol that merchants should follow to support actual arrests and convictions for shoplifting and avoid false arrest charges.  Neiman Marcus loss prevention agents followed this protocol to the letter when they detained Mary Hayashi.  As there was no question that she had shoplifted, she plead guilty to a misdemeanor to avoid a felony conviction.  She got a slap on the wrist for doing it, though, and she still may be able to salvage her political career: she’s currently running for Alameda County Supervisor.


52 thoughts on “A Little Secret: Shoplifters Can Ignore Exit Alarms”

  1. I am not quite clear on your mention of the “exit greeters” that want to see your receipt and compare it with the items in your cart. Are you saying that I can just walk past them and they won’t do a thing? It seems obvious that this should be the case. I haven’t stolen anything and it’s a waste of my time. At Sam’s Club I have already waited in the always-too-long lines to pay for my stuff, so I shouldn’t have to wait in another line just to get “approval” to leave the store with my property.

    1. In most stores you can definitely walk past them without showing them your receipt or stopping.

      However, some membership clubs (and Sam’s Club may be one of them), make your membership conditional on you accepting them checking your receipt. Now, you still don’t have to show it to them – but if they can figure out who you are they could revoke your membership.

      1. I know but im not a shop lifter for example people who shoplif are the people who don’t like using money or are poor or are kids don’t blame kids but kids mostly get caught by parents

    2. You don’t have to stop and show them anything unless they have like an overwhelming amount of evidence. They have to see you remove the item from its place, see exactly where you concealed the item and then wait until you pass through the doors exit the building before youve actually broke the law. Don’t stop ever, none of those power hungry fools have the right to touch u, if they do scream rape and sue them for sexual advancement, false accusations and public humiliation which is why you now have PTSD. BAM!!!

      1. This is absolutely right Samuel…they have to see you on camera, record it, know exactly where you put it, prove you had no intention of paying for it (walking out). Then they would still need to make you reveal it (they can’t touch you…or its assault). Then and only then have they made a case to call the police. This is why they just let people keep on walking.

        1. Target loss prevention ran up behind me as I was exiting.

          And gave me a bear hug. I told him to get his hands off me. I’m 6ft3 265lbs. And he was about my size but that’s not the point. I just dident want to be charged with assult.

          1. You could sue them for assault and battery. Or at least call the police and press charges. They have no right to touch you.

            Of course, I’m assuming you have not shoplifted.

      2. I love this comment! My old friend in High School ran out with a 30pack and one of the workers yelled “stop! That guy stole something” and a everyday shopper bum rushed him and almost knocked him out with the hit! My friend was arrested but got let off and couldn’t enter Albertsons. But the times he got by were fun nights!

  2. Scott, believe it or not, when I have been to Sam’s Club they check my receipt each time without fail. Last time, not knowing of course, the cashier forgot to ring up my very large bag of Donkin Donuts Coffee Grounds – and the checker caught it and made me “hand it over” or pay for it.

    I have to admit I was frustrated – and decided that going back in line to pay for an item that should have been rang up the first time was not worth my time.

    1. No, it’s actually the opposite. What I’m saying is that the electronic tag that makes a product beep if it’s activated is a red herring. A store does not have the legal right to stop you just because you “beeped” while you exited the store. But they can still stop you or call the police on you if they have other evidence that you have shoplifted. For example, if a store employee saw you take the item off the shelves and leave the store without paying. Or if they have camera footage of you doing that.

      For example, I was at the Dollar Tree the other day when store employees saw someone picking up an item and head out, the store employees called him out about paying, but he walked out with the item. If the store had a security guard (and this was a small store, so it didn’t), the security guard would have been able to detain the shoplifter until the police came.

      I want to make sure to make it clear that I don’t condone shoplifting. I think it’s a very stupid thing to do. But I also think that those devises are annoying and inconvenient without adding much in the way of security for a store.

  3. Dude, Im literally a pirate in hawaii. I live in the streets (kicked out) and it requires me to steal to survive. Check this out: Walmart, kmart, safeway, all their detectors NEVER work. I went through them with a bunch of shit that a few more pirates and I steal. We’re even able to steal alcohol. Just avoid cameras and slip shit into your bag (a hand bag that you can easily open is the easiest) and the secret is to buy something everyone you steal. It doesn’t have to be expensive, for example, I had 300 dollars worth of shit in my bag and I only bought a mountain dew. As long as you’re seen paying at the register, they won’t bother to even suspect you shoplift!

    1. Destyni, stealing is not the answer. Leaving morality aside – eventually you’ll get caught, get a record, and have a really hard time finding a job. There should be social services that can give you some help in Hawaii. Try a church, if not.

      1. Are you really giving a homeless person a lecture on morality?
        Food and shelter should be free for all morals have nothing to do with this.

        1. I specifically said “leaving morality aside”. There are very practical negative consequences to be caught shoplifting.

    2. Your a fucking savage who gives a fuck about getting caught lifes about having fun dude if it makes u happy just do it fuck anyone that hates. I dont like being on camera and to be filmed If i were to steal from a big store like american eagle or something i would wanna have like a friend with me and when we get in the store act like we dont know each other and both buy something small then and then put something in a bag and both walk out on oposite sides of the entrance setting the alarm off but wouldnt know who to stop idk just a thought i wouldnt wanna steal from a store that has camera though cause sooner or later they will find out and then i wouldnt feel safe going to my favorite stores

  4. Shut up stupid bitch. You know nothing about being homeless and the horrible shit you are subjected to because of a series of shit that ended up leaving you homeless. Your morals change real quick when you have no idea where to sleep that night. I’d love to watch people like you go through what I have gone through and am still going through. Fuck your morals

    1. Im 29 and have been homeless in LA for two years now, i only steal what i absolutely need and pay for what i can but the harsh reality is that it doesnt matter what happened to you to get u to the point of being homeless, society treats u like a lesser being and judges and discriminates against us homeless before giving us a chance. I walk into a store and instantly i have loss prevention following me or hear “security, watch all cameras” over the p.a. system, even if im holding cash in my hand. And resteraunts or fast food places tell me i have to get my food to go just because im homeless, its fucked up and demoralising. I could understand it if i was filthy and smelled horrible or was disruptive or something but thats not the case, i keep myself quite clean for a homeless person, i wash my clothes in bathroom sinks and wash myself and hair in restrooms as well and when im lucky enough to get a hotel room for a night i let every one of my friends who live on the streets shower and stay the night regardless of hotel policy. We get treated like lesser beings but the truth is, some of the nicest, most caring, generous and most inteligent people i have met in my entire life are homeless, so stop looking at us like trash, we are people, we cry and bleed just like everyone else.

      1. It breaks my heart to read your comment. I know you are right. And what’s worst is that we all could be where you are. Have you tried homeless programs in LA? Churches?

      2. I belive homeless people(for the most part) became. Homeless from being good people. And geting ran over and pushed aside by family or a ex

    2. You sound like a pretty intelligent person. Intelligent enough to go on a tirade about being homeless. You should channel that energy into something positive Or ask God to guide you. Try being homeless with 5 kids because a DEADBEAT didn’t man up and help with his children!! But rather than wallow in self pity, I went to college, got my degree and made a better life for my kids and myself. I sure the hell didn’t want them to learn how to STEAL to survive. Good Luck to you. God Bless you!

      1. I belive homeless people(for the most part) became. Homeless from being good people. And geting ran over and pushed aside by family or a ex


        As for your kids dad “maning up” ???? Ummmmm. Lets see here. …… You had 5 kids with the guy and he dident run away after the 1st. Or the 2nd. 3rd 4th but the 5th one he did. ???? Because that’s what men do. Ya. Makes since. We leave the women only after 5 kids. Because that’s what we do. :/

        .sarcastic. And your story sounds fake af

  5. “Stupid Bitch??” Wow, Admin didn’t say anything bad about this person; they were simply stating that there are places out there designed to help people in a homeless situation. And it’s true. Yes, sometimes it is difficult to have to go to a shelter every single day and ask for help, but that’s what it’s there for.
    Name calling is not necessary here.

    1. There are waiting list for shelters defiantly if your not loving in a semi big city then your forced to sleep outside or find some place indoors a laundry a hallway somewhere to get out the cold and maybe get rest being homeless really homeless fucking sucks bad your never all the way content or comfortable so don’t talk about shit you have never lived or felt

      1. That sound so stupid. I’ve been homeless before and was able to have a cell phone. It’s a invention called Wi-Fi. It’s literally everywhere by the way

        1. I belive homeless people(for the most part) became. Homeless from being good people. And geting ran over and pushed aside by family or a ex


  6. not sure about the seriouseness here , but wow lovn it. The “stupid bitch” who commented…. classic. Obviousely we all wish we were at least well off so we didnt have to steal shit. and if u gots to do what u gotta do then thats it . Best of luck and , get urs since u gotta. Greed , lazy gets u caught . and a bad plan of course . Simple as this i love everybody, but seriousely Fuck all yall. bitches. Ough , and body language and dress atire are encouraged. sorry pirate guy – still love u though. Be scary , intimidation is real.

  7. anybody confused about prior comment ,other than admin , fuck you. sorry im having a bad life. fuck . stephanie -where you @ baby ?

  8. I shoplift something EVERYTIME I enter any store. Easy to scrape off those RFID tags with my thumb.
    MOST IMPORTANT is to not look around and up at the cameras making it clear you are up to something. I smile and joke with staff and checkout clerks. Walmart loss prevention is poorly trained and very easy to find in the crowd. They are always alone carrying a small light weight product (hat, shirt or socks).
    If you don’t want to pay for it? Take it.

  9. I recently stole [deleted] drive from [deleted], and I just now realize that it can pretty much ruin my life. I’m pretty sure the only thing the cameras can see is the movement of my coat. What worries me is that action combined with the sensors at the door going off. I continued walking though the door out to my car and nobody followed me. Do you think they have enough evidence that I stole to convict me? I will not be stealing anymore, that’s for sure.

    1. I don’t think you have to worry about being arrested, much less convict you. If they don’t detain you immediately after you leave the store, the chances of their going after you are infinitesimal. They might, however, be on the lookout for you and detain you if the see you shoplifting again. Stores also share the photos of known shoplifters with one another, so that other stores can be in the lookout for known shoplifters.

  10. HELP YAL OK SO TODAY I STOLE WHIT MY FRIEND in Walmart I had a bag I was gonna invite my other girl/ Friend cuz it’s not gonna be obvious if we stole cuz girls always carry bags after we left the alarm rang the fat lady that checks receipts told us to suffer I have a nasty look like bitch tc we didn’t steal shit leave us alone and kept walking my dumb ass friend stood there and I was like come hurry after we got out the doors in the front I started running to my car I WAS SHOOK BITCH we left and opened everything removed the tags and stuff (Btw the only reason it ran it was bc I stole a movie// forgot that my friend always takes the bar inside) now when I was driving back home I was parenoid bc there was allot of cops and also a cop going to Walmart all I want to know is can I get arrested or get charge I’m 16 also I said I’m gonna blame it on my other friend since he’s 15 and they can’t take him to jail or nothing IM SHOOK they have new cameras when u walk in I just hope that fat bitch didn’t snitch or call the cops I hope she does

  11. Took your guys advice and went to a store, took 4 ten foot chargers with the mind to put one back, and headed to the back of the store. I took the tags off of two and put them in my pocket.There I struggled taking off the plastic surrounding one of the chargers which could have been detected. Around walks a black employee while seeing the struggle, asks if I was stealing, I replied no and made up some crazy story, and insisted that I was gonna pay for it. In short I got two chargers free and had to pay for one (I put the other one back)

    1. I did not mean this to become a post/thread about how to shoplift. I’m not censorious, so I’ll allow the comments – but I think it’s really, really stupid (in addition to unethical) to shoplift.

  12. Hell no do i stop and let the exit greeters check my stuff for example at Wal-Mart I just remind them that they are not Costco so therefore I never signed any membership agreements!!!

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