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ToTD: The Big Show

Tales of a Thief Dancer (ToTD): Wherein people are stealing weird.

Size isn't a key component to catching shoplifters. I'm not big at all. Matter of fact, large size can actually be a detriment in this game, and that's on both sides of the law.

I spent a majority of my career in a college town, since I was attending that very same college myself. Every now and then I'd catch someone I had class with, or saw on a fairly regular basis. It was only a weird the first few times for me; I can't speak to how they felt.

On this one warm afternoon I spotted what was - at the time - perhaps the largest human being I'd ever seen. He and a buddy walked into the electronics department and proceeded to pocket something. I don't remember what it was, but based on the size of his shorts, it could have been a TV or washer/dryer combo.

I'm kidding. We didn't sell appliances.

Anyway, he's directly across from my camera so I have a perfect angle to see him stuff the merchandise in his pocket. As he walks towards the camera on the way out, I swear his head was level with the lens. I did one of my better jobs switching cameras to record his entire journey out the door. At no point was he out of range.

I waited until he passed the registers and through the first set of doors before tearing out of my office and sprinting across the front of the store. I'm fast enough that he was only a few steps off the sidewalk when I busted out after him to make the stop.

It was like putting a paper mache doll in front of a slow rolling log. He just kept walking towards me. I didn't attempt to physically stop him since I valued most of my limbs. He got into the passenger side of his buddy's truck. I stood in front of it to stop them but jumped away when I heard him put it into gear. In frustration I kicked the door as they drove past.

By the time the police arrived, the truck was long gone. I had descriptions, I had a plate number; what I didn't have was the thief. When the police tracked him down and paid a visit, there was no sign of the merchandise anywhere in the house. Surprise.

But I'm dogged in a way. I filed a report anyway and they cited him. It didn't surprise me to hear that he was lawyering up to fight the charge.

The prosecutor picked up a copy of the surveillance tape and brought it down to the thief and his attorney. Together they all watched it. According to the prosecutor, when it was done, the lawyer turned to his client with a look of irritation and some disbelief. I'm guessing the guy never told the truth.

At this the thief sat quietly for a moment, then looked up at both lawyers. "Well, now what? Is it too late to plead guilty?"

I accept all guilty pleas, late or not. I ended up charging him for the item, plus punitive recompense. Size, schmize.

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