Techniques

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These are some random scams and ideas submitted by contributors. Some may be helpful while others outlandish. Use common sense.

Tools[edit]

Any place that sells tools will sell tool boxes. Grab one from the shelf, grab some tools, find a camera blind spot and load them up. Repeat as necessary, just don't put too many in, or sound will give you away. Then, go up to the counter, pay for the tool box and take off with the contents. If the store clerk opens it up and sees the tools inside, just say you put them in there so you didn't have to carry them.

This technique is remarkably effective, so long as you show moderation. Tools don't have electronic tags so you're home free if you have the box.

Another technique, which isn't free, but pretty close, is to find broken down old tools that carry a lifetime warranty. Garage sales are always a good bet. Bonus points if they're actually broken. Then take them back to the store and get a whole set of shiny new replacements.

If you just need a particular tool for a short time, like putting on new battery cables on a car outside a parts place, many of the parts places keep 'loaner' tools on hand so folks will not have to shoplift tools. It may help to ask if they have a spare tool first rather than steal.

Computers[edit]

This one requires some serious cash up front, but it's almost a foolproof scheme besides that. Buy some computer parts at the local Best Buy (How many is up to you, this may not work with a whole computer's worth) and be sure to get the extended warranty. Then, when the warranty is about to expire, take the part(s) back and you'll get store credit for their value. Buy the hot new thing with the money and you'll have a good, high spec computer that never gets outdated.

Books[edit]

Stealing from your average corporate bookstore chain is surprisingly simple, mainly because most (both) of these franchises also maintain a corporate cafe in the store. The trick involves hiding in plain sight.

Bring to the store a backpack, a notebook, and a pen. Walk into the store cool as ice, and ask the most managerial looking employee some innocuous query about what section is where. This will put you off their radar because the employees have been trained to believe that engaging the customer prevents them from being tempted to shoplift. This of course is absolute bullshit, and you can use it to your advantage by playing the average customer.

After they have helped you find, the metaphysics/government conspiracies section, grab 2-3 books that you want and will fit in your backpack. Now head to the cafe and buy a delicious standardized beverage and/or snack product and sit anywhere in the cafe area that isn't directly in front of the cafe register. Now you'll be playing the role of the thrifty student that does their assigned readings/notes in the store. Take out your notebook, and flip through one of the titles you picked up, and act as if you're studying the book and taking notes in your notebook, casually sipping your coffee, etc. This is all about maintaining the persona of a typical customer the employees see every day, and thus entering their blind spot. Weekends, evenings and other busy timeslots are the best for this trick, provided you can find a seat at the cafe. Some new/expensive titles will have security tabs, usually tucked up close to the spine between the last page and the back cover. These can be peeled off easily and discretely. Keep "studying" for 15-20 minutes, and then not too fast but not too slow, just make a neat pile of your notebook/books and slip them into your backpack. Mosey around the store a bit more and then casually walk out the door.

If you screw up and forgot a security tag, and set off the alarm gates, just keep walking. Your average corporate bookstore employee is getting paid an average of 8 dollars an hour and will likely not bother, unless it's a large store and someone is stationed at the door. There are no "secret tags" on books, so if there isn't one tucked in the back of the book, you should make it through the gates no sweat. In some bookstores, the tag will occasionally be placed somewhere in the center of the book near the spine, though they're generally thick and easy enough to find with a quick flip through of the book. If you do get caught, make sure you have the money for the books and a convincing story about how you're SO sorry and you've been staying up all night for finals the past 2 days and don't know which way is up and yes, of course you'll pay for them, you're so sorry that happened, you're just SO out of it, you're on like, autopilot today. Do not get defensive. This probably won't even be a concern if you've followed all the steps, as this technique is way easy and works frequently.

There's very little/no camera coverage on the cafe seating area. All of the cameras are pointed at the cashiers and the aisles of books. The cameras usually rout to a single computer monitor in the head managers office, and the head manager always has better things to do than watch the cameras. Inner city stores may have loss prevention specialists working undercover, but they're usually all about the "ask them if they need any help and they'll magically not be a shoplifter" policy, and will see you asking for help and pay you no mind, and they're unlikely to hang around the cafe. It's more likely these stores don't even have undercover agents since their budgets are so tight from competing with amazon, best to leave them and the library alone. Most, if not all Barnes & Noble bookstores have a section of books outside of the alarm gates. Find one you like, take it and walk away. In the unlikely chance someone chases you after something they were stupid enough to place outside the alarm gates in the first place, run like hell. If you get caught, you're on your own.

Alternatively, it's feasible to simple walk out the front door with a handful of books if you opt to steal from Borders, where many of the branches lack the alarms at all. Have an accomplice park nearest the mall exit - you'll want to leave opposite the cashiers - and simply stroll out of the store. Look bored as you walk, and keep your head grounded in your surroundings and you'll be fine. Knowledge is power, and, in a perfect world, power would be free. So liberate it.

Newspapers[edit]

If you find yourself dead broke and needing to look at a paper to score a job or just need something to read later on in the day, newspapers are fairly easy to get. If you ride a bike or walk through many of the suburban neighborhoods (and even some businesses) early in the AM before sunrise, many delivered newspapers are delivered by throwing them in the yard or sidewalk of the place. Just stop and pick one up, no spare change required. Do not dally around, though... and watch out for early residents who may be awake!

Manga[edit]

Stealing manga is really easy if you follow this method. Go right for the manga/anime section; you don't want any of the cash register clerks to see you. Pick out up to four manga of the same series and flip through them as if you're interested and pick out the rectangular RFID tags; you can stick these under the book shelves. When you're finished, go up to the check out and put all of the books on the counter. Then, you say this, "Hi! My friend bought me numbers 4 through 6 (however many you got, they should all be in order) in this series for my birthday, but I haven't gotten that far yet. Is there a way I can switch these ones for numbers 1 through 3?" The clerk will ask if you have the receipt, to this just say, "Oh no! My friend didn't give me one." Then they will tell you that you need a receipt to exchange any books. By having this conversation with the clerk, you have established trust and an ownership of the manga you just grabbed. Now that you're done, act slightly let down and walk out; no one will suspect you. This method also works with books.

Metal Bag[edit]

I've found that if you make a pouch out of at least 40 layers of aluminum foil (I used 45 just to be safe) and put it inside a side or messenger bag, that you can steal items without any security alarms going off. This has worked for me every time, although you'll still have to watch out for cameras and 'secret shoppers' (security guards in disguise as shoppers). Make sure that you have a lid and all sides of your pouch have at least 40 layers. If you are using a messenger bag you can tape the lid to the bottom of the top flap of your bag, and closing the messenger bag will seal the aluminum pouch. Go into a Target or other big store that sells electronics and steal the most expensive item that's not locked up that will fit into your aluminum pouch, and then sell it online or on the street (be careful if you are selling stolen items on the street, it's pretty obvious to a passing cop). Make sure that you are confident and casual, and when you walk in pick up a shopping basket and put a small item or two in it and buy them instead of just walking out. This way you are a paying customer and you will be less suspicious.

Small Electronics[edit]

Many small electronics, earbuds and SD cards for example, are locked to the shelf, and they assume that's all the protection they need. Assuming you haven't aroused any suspicion in getting in position, you should be able to be "browsing" these items. Take a small pocket knife or an exacto blade (something that isn't a weapon and you can palm easily), and cut open the rear of the package on the shelf (perhaps the second or third item back on the shelf). Make it appear as though you are reading the specs of the product (transfer rate? frequency response?). press the front of the package to get it out. Palm it and pocket it along with the blade on the spot. Ask the clerk to look up if they have headphones from a more respectable company like Sennheiser, or if they have class X SD cards. Since they never have actual quality electronics for a feasible price in big box stores, they won't find anything, but you've established trust. Appear mildly disappointed, thank the clerk, and leave.

In this case, look for products that don't make your pockets bulge, such as SD cards. Depending on the security quality, you may be able to get something as good as a mp3 player like this (thanks to apple's rounded design standard that doesn't cause pocket bulges).

Just Run![edit]

The simplest technique ever! Most of the time, if you walk into a store, grab what you need/want/can sell, and tear ass out at top speed, you'll get away. They likely won't chase you too far, especially if you look dangerous, and you'll be long gone by the time the fuzz shows up. Don't try this in a mall or big department store though. They have private pigs, automatically-locking doors, etc.. Once you're out the door, you either have a buddy waiting with a ride (dangerous, as they may catch the license plate), duck into an alley or building, or just book it on foot until you're sure they're not chasing you anymore.

Most of the time, though, this is a bad idea. Running calls attention to you, and unless you are sure you can get away, you're going to be between a rock and a hard spot. If you decide to use this technique, be sure to judge your target beforehand, and map out a route and a back-up route. And remember - if you do get caught, you have no excuse.

Emergency Exit[edit]

You will have to brave an alarm once you open the door (unless you fixed the yelper box with a screwdriver or nail earlier) but there is often little security on watch in back, and lots of emergency exits. Have a fast get-away plan ready. If you have a security tail you had better be faster than them since there may be no witnesses in the back. Don't try this with "Big-Box" style retail stores such as Home Depot or Walmart, because their fire doors are designed to prevent snatch-and-grab theft. After you press the bar, the alarm sounds for fifteen seconds before the door unlocks. Of course, you could just lean up against it "by accident" with your cart full of expensive merchandise, and if nobody shows up after the fifteen seconds are up...

Brick in the Wal[edit]

After a recent national news article there are those who claim it's a fact that Walmart doesn't prosecute the "average" shoplifter for values under $20, Walmart disputes this allegation in a follow up article. Of course, if you're caught more than once, you'll probably be charged. The truth is like in most stores it is up to the store detective and corporate rules, since the early 90's some stores have a company policy that if the security makes a stop they must prosecute no matter how small the theft else the security agent will themselves be fired, this is to prevent bribes or sexual favors being traded for freedom. Many stores also post "arrest" information on a commercial databases separate from what the police use, this may be used by subscribers for pre-employment and other background checks as well as when evaluating busted shoplifters.

RFID[edit]

That said, keep in mind this fact about stealing clothes from retailers: an increasing number of clothing manufacturers are being forced by companies like Walmart to embed RFID chips in their fabric. These chips are used ostensibly for inventory control. To have decent range, RFIDs must have a reasonably sized antenna. The chips used for loss prevention generally appear to be a 1.25" paper square with some rectangular coils of wire underneath. They can be peeled off, but it's quite irritating work. These chips can get much smaller at the expense of sensor range though; keep this in mind as the government (which is closely associated with all corporations - the larger the better) continues to slide down the slippery slope of information technology on a heavily greased sled. The good news is once stores are all RFID you can take your RFID reader/writer and reprogram the Gucci stuff to Pucchi prices. If you can't rewrite the RFID then destroy it, either cut the the antenna if you know where it is or microwave or ectro-shock the item hopefully destroying the arphid (RFID) without burning your item.

Distracted[edit]

An easy way to lift shoes is to try them on, then have a friend "find" you and show you something in another aisle. Then, simply walk out! Everything from $140 pairs of Doc Marten boots to $10 faux Converse have been "bought" in this manner. Don't do this at places like Payless Shoe Source, most of them are being put out of business by Wal-Mart and Target.

Under Cover[edit]

Another incredibly easy way to get clothes is to simply wear them out under a sweater or another pair of pants. This is particularly effective with underwear and t-shirts, and works best in less high-end stores. Remember to choose a corner stall, as these are less likely to have a security camera hovering above.

The "Confidence" Method[edit]

This method involves you picking up one or two larger items (VCR's, DVD players, boom-boxes etc. work great for this one) and wandering around the store with them as though you bought them and are looking for something else. After a few minutes, and once you are far enough away from the department where you swiped it, walk out the door with all the confidence in the world (you may want to staple on a phony receipt). They might even hold the door. If you have confidence, and look like a good customer, this might work.

Loading/Piggybacking[edit]

Not a 100% free method, but a damn good one. Simply put, you find a cheap item with a large box, an area of the store without cameras, and a bunch of small, expensive items. Get the stuff you need, and carefully move it all into the store's blind spot. Make sure that it's not obvious you're doing this... if it is, then employees will probably tail you. Once it's all there, open the large box, pack in the small stuff (but make sure it can't rattle around!) and close up the box. Pay for the large item. Alternatively, you can use slight of hand to sneak small, flat-ish items into the box without fully opening it. Some sufficiently talented fighters have been able to do this in full view of cameras and employees and not get caught -- but don't be too cocky, or you'll likely get caught.

Diversion[edit]

Have a partner draw off security by singing into the PA system, openly stuffing things into his shirt but not leaving, or yelling at a clerk up front, the scene needs to take long enough that security attention will be drawn away.

Stealing Makeup[edit]

Makeup isn't a necessity, and does not benefit any real cause but big business and animal testing, so don't buy it if you don't have to! Usually at stores such as CVS or Rite Aide, the there is a LOT of makeup to choose from, and it covers almost floor to ceiling. This gives you a lot of ways to use your body to hide what you're doing, especially the lower you get. Wear long, looser sleeves (coats work well). Be aware of where cameras are, and try to shield what you're doing- stuffing eye shadow, eyeliner, loose lipstick and mascara up your sleeves. You have awhile to do this- most people take a long time picking out makeup- so take your time to pick your own out. When you're done, pick cheap eyeshadow or something like that, buy it as a cover, and walk right out.

Mail Call[edit]

In big shops like Walmart, there's often a post office or parcel service counter somewhere inside the shopping area. So you can just take a cardboard box, fill it with stuff you want to have, close the box and mail it to yourself, other people, or to places where you can pick it up later. One guy did this to make a living for months. He specialized in DVDs, which he sold on eBay.

Double Team[edit]

This technique requires two people of the same gender, preferably women, as purses draw less attention than bulges in pants pockets. One person walks in the store, looks around for a minute and grabs some items as if they intend to purchase them. That person then goes to use the restroom, gets in a stall and unwraps the packaging of the items (as long as there's no one else in there). You walk in a few minutes later and go straight to the restroom. You should remember the shoes of your accomplice and go to the stall next to them. They hand you the unwrapped item under the stall, put the box and any electronic anti-theft devices in the upper part of the toilet, and leave. You leave a minute later, pretend to look for soup or something to ease suspicion (if you're paranoid) and leave the store.

They have no reason to search you, so (ideally) they can't. If pigs search your accomplice (going into the restroom with unpaid items provides probable cause) he or she will be free to go because they have no stolen items on their person.

Tripp Pants[edit]

Also known as "those baggy goth pants", Tripps can prove to be quite valuable to the shoplifter, as the pockets are deep, the clothes are baggy enough to conceal any bulges, and any noise made can be attributed to chains/studs/whatever. The only downside is that wearing them is going "out of the norm" and could make you a target for harassment by the rent-a-cops or ordinary civilians - especially in the Southern United States. Well that, and they cost a bit of money to purchase (unless you can get some used from a friend) and are nearly useless to you aside from shoplifting unless you already have the goth or raver look.

Sidewalk Sales[edit]

Sidewalk sales, especially major ones that allow customers to freely roam in and out of the store with merchandise, are money. There are several reasons for this. First of all, anything that's outside is outside the range of most store cameras and all electronic shoplifting detectors. Second, it's way easier to talk your way out of being considered a "shoplifter." If there are products outside the store, salespeople will actually buy the "Oh, I just forgot to pay!" excuse, or the "Really? You can't take in-store items out while you're looking at the sale items? I had no idea!" explanation. Sometimes you can even get away with telling the clerk that you own the item in question. If you sound really offended, and say things like "I can't believe you're accusing me of theft! I purchased this item when I was here last time!" or "I OWN this, thankyouverymuch", they tend to be afraid of calling your bullshit. You can also just storm off if they bother you too much, and they probably won't chase you. Third, if they put up blockers or turn off their usual electronic detection devices, you can steal ANYTHING by simply taking it and walking out. The people in the store will assume you're browsing the sale products, and the people outside will think you already paid. It helps to have a bag from that store on hand, but it's not necessary. Fourth, that crap is on sale because they want to get rid of it. They actually sort of want you to steal it, so they're not going to try too hard to catch you.

One place that does this with some regularity is Urban Outfitters, which is nice because some of their shit is cool but way overpriced. Lots of random local stores do this too, but if you rip off a small business, make sure you're jacking the man's profits, and not your fellow workers. It's only polite.

The 'Just Run' method works well here too, as many times merchandise will be on wheeled carts. Just run.

Purses/Wallets[edit]

Purses and wallets can be taken easily with two methods. The first method works with female shoppers only. The first method is to simply pick up a purse, make sure the tags are somewhat hidden, and walk around the store for a few minutes as if your shopping before simply walking out as if you own the purse. The second method can be used with male shoppers (if you're stealing a wallet) as well. This method is a bit harder, but also a bit safer since if you get caught you can say you forgot to pay. First, get a purse or wallet off the shelf, rip the tag off and remove any paper filling, and put some cash in it. Then get something small and cheap (such as a pack of gum), and go to the register. put the small, cheap item on the counter, then put your purse or wallet near the edge and pull out your cash to pay. If done right, the cashier will assume you brought in the purse/wallet and won't ring it up. You can also hide a wallet under some clothes, go into a changing room and simply slip it into your pocket and walk out. They can't have cameras in changing rooms, so this is very easy to get away with. Even stores with changing room attendants usually just ask you how many items you have and take your word for it.

Bathroom[edit]

If redirected from the Free Play page, there are many other methods of shoplifting various items besides CDs, DVDs and games on this page.

This method has been used hundreds of times to steal electronics such as DVDs, CDs and videogames, all of which usually have theft detector strips in them. For this you will need a small keychain pocketknife (so as not to be considered a concealed weapon should you get caught) and a means to conceal the item(s) you wish to steal. For girls, a large purse should be fine - maybe leave some unneeded items (hairbrush, etc) in the car. For guys, a jacket/coat/hoodie with large pockets (cold weather) or cargo shorts with large pockets (warm weather) should be adequate. Pick the item(s) you want to steal and conceal them in your pockets. Don't get greedy; limit yourself to taking a maximum of four or five items, as any more than five becomes suspicious/obvious. Casually go into the store bathroom (in a sit-down stall if you're a guy) and using the pocketknife, cut open the plastic wrapper and remove the theft detector. Flush the wrapper and theft detector down the toilet, so you don't leave any evidence (and so the MAN doesn't get wise to this method). If you want, you can remove any stickers sealing the case and flush those too so if you are somehow caught, you have deniability that you brought them in with you. Put the merchandise back in your pockets (or purse) and walk out like nothing happened.

You may use this technique or you may bring an empty CD case which is preferably covered on both sides into the bathroom, and move the disc into the CD case. Once you have done this, secretly slide the other case back onto a shelf and you're out.

Notes[edit]

There are a few things to remember when doing this:

  • The key to the above method is that you can't be too noisy when removing the wrapper or theft detector. If there is no one in the bathroom, be as loud as you want, just be quick. If someone is in the bathroom already, just wait til they get done and commence what you were doing. Listen for the opening bathroom door and look below the stall walls to see if the bathroom is still occupied. Flush the toilet if you need a sound to cover the noise you make.
  • The theft detector will be either a thin rectangular strip that's easy to just pull off or a square sticker that's a bitch to remove. CDs almost always use the thin strip, whereas DVDs and games vary. With CDs, the theft detector is sometimes between the two pieces of plastic that make up the back part of the case. If so, remove the front plastic cover carefully and pry the top of the case apart and it should pop off. It is highly recommended that you practice this on a CD case at home so you can do it easily and quietly. Use the pocketknife to help you if this becomes difficult.
  • The ideal places to do this are at Best Buy, Target and Walmart; Circuit City has theft sensors around the entrance to their bathroom (at least where some people live) and mall stores like Suncoast or F.Y.E. are too obvious (you're usually the only customer in the store sometimes) or have no bathroom.
  • More generally, be nice to the employees if you encounter them, especially door greeters. Say 'hi' when you walk in and ask them how they're doing. Don't strike up a conversation about something stupid, just be cool. This is because most shoplifters are anti-social, nervous about being caught and don't make eye contact. If you're nice and cordial, most people assume you're not stealing. When you leave, make sure to say "Have a nice day" or "Take it easy". This reinforces the they're-nice-and-can't-possibly-be-stealing idea and keeps people's eyes off your pockets.

Quick electronics[edit]

A quicker, but much riskier way to lift a CD, DVD or game is to nonchalantly conceal the item, then just find a very cheap movie or CD and proceed to check out. Purchase it and then walk out the door casually, almost obliviously. If the alarm doesn't go off, your golden, but if it does just pretend like the item you bought caused it to go off and show them the receipt. This method usually works, but they could always stop you, take the item you bought and ask you to walk through the sensor again, in which case, you're fucked. Some stores now have hand-held sensors, which they can wave over you to locate the source of the item, in which case, again, you're fucked. You can blame it on your pants zipper or your cell phone, but it depends how much the door watcher cares. If it works, at a later date just return the item you bought (make sure it remains unopened) for a full refund.

Wedgie[edit]

One of the easiest methods used for small items, especially drinks, is to just pull your underwear way up, and place the item in the crotch. If you're skinny, you can fit up to a 1 liter bottle in your pants and look slightly aroused at best.

Original TECHNIQUES[edit]

The lining of a bulky overcoat or loose raincoat can be elaborately outfitted with a variety of custom-made large pockets. The openings to these pockets are not visible since they are inside the coat. The outside pockets can be torn out leaving only the opening or slit. Thus you can reach your hand (at counter level) through the slit in your coat and drop objects into the secret pockets sewn into the lining. Pants can also be rigged with secret pockets. The idea is to let your fingers do the walking through the slit in your coat, while the rest of the body remains the casual browser. You'll be amazed at how much you can tuck away without any noticeable bulge.

Another method is to use a hidden belt attached to the inside of your coat or pants. The belt is specially designed with hooks or clothespins to which items can be discretely attached. Ditching items into hidden pockets requires a little cunning. You should practice before a mirror until you get good at it.

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A good idea is to work with a partner. Dig this neat duet. A man and woman walk into a store together looking like a respectable husband and wife. The man purchases a good belt or shirt and engages the salesman in some distracting conversation as he rings up the sale. Meanwhile, back in the aisle, "wife" is busy rolling up two or three suits. Start from the bottom while they are still on the rack and roll them up, pants and jackets together, the way you would roll a sleeping bag. The sleeves are tied around the roll making a neat little bundle. The bundle is then tucked between your thighs. The whole operation takes about a minute and with some practice you can walk for hours with a good size bundle between your legs and not appear like you just shit in your pants. Try this with a coat on in front of a mirror and see how good you get at it.

Another team method is for one or more partners to distract the sales clerks while the other stuffs. There are all sorts of theater skits possible. One person can act drunk or better still appear to be having an epileptic fit. Two people can start a fight with each other. There are loads of ways, just remember how they do it in the next spy movie you see.

One of the best gimmicks around is the packaging technique. Once you have the target item in hand, head for the fitting room or other secluded spot. Take out a large piece of gift wrapping and ribbon. Quickly wrap up the item so it will look like you brought it in with you. Many stores have their own bags and staple the cash register receipt to the top of the bag when you make a purchase. Get a number of these bags by saving them if you make a purchase or dropping around to the receiving department with a request for some bags for your Christmas play or something. Next collect some sales receipts, usually from the sidewalk or trash cans in front of the store. Buy or rip-off a small pocket stapler for less than a dollar. When you get the item you want, drop it in the bag and staple it closed, remembering to attach the receipt. This is an absolutely perfect method and takes just a few seconds. It eliminates a lot of unsightly bulges in your coat and is good for warm-weather heisting.

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A dummy shopping bag can be rigged with a bit of ingenuity. The idea is to make it look like the bag is full when there's still lots of room left. Use strips of cardboard taped to the inside of the bag to give it some body. Remember to carry it like it's filled with items, not air. Professional heisters often use a "booster box," usually a neatly wrapped empty package with one end that opens upon touch. This is ideal for electrical appliances, jewelry, and even heavy items such as portable television sets. The trick side can be fitted with a spring door so once the toaster is inside the door slams shut. Don't wear a black hat and cape and go around waving a wand yelling "Abracadabra," just be your usual schlep shopper self. If you can manage it, the trick side just can be an opening without a trick door. Just carry the booster box with the open side pressed against your body. Briefcases, suitcases and other types of carrying devices can all be made to hold items. Once you have something neatly tucked away in a bag or box, it's pretty hard to prove you didn't come in with it.

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