Criminal Minds

December 10, 2015


Thou-shall-not-stealIn the last six weeks, I’ve been in two stores at the precise moment they were robbed. Not the old fashioned, “stick ‘em up” kind of robbery with nose covering bandanas, but the more modern version of a “grab and dash” operation. Both incidents took place in large department stores, one in Spanish Fort and the other in Pensacola. Along with the other customers who witnessed the brazen acts, I was outraged and incensed at their boldness.


One of the crimes involved a group of people who approached a display from two different directions, and while one group quickly clipped the security cables, the other scooped up dozens of designer pocketbooks and ran towards the door where a get-away car awaited.


The other incident involved a woman loaded with an arm full of merchandise, who slowly, so as not to attract attention, strolled towards the door. When the alarms sounded, she bolted for her accomplice’s waiting car and zoomed away.


Everyone who witnessed these events was outraged and struggled to understand how someone could think it was okay to steal. Customers huddled together and said things like, “This is what makes the prices go up!” and “If that was me, my Mawmaw would have left me with only legs and a trunk because my a*# would have been beat clear off!”


My own first thoughts were those of action. If I had been paying better attention, I could have flung my phone through the air and nailed them upside the head, or if I had been closer, I could have stuck out my foot and tripped the low-life-no-good bandits. Raising teenaged boys has made me fearless.


After I paid for my purchases with my own hard earned money from my lucrative newspaper job, I drove home wondering if any of the crooks felt even the slightest bit of guilt. Had they ever heard the little ditty, “thou shalt not steal?” As tykes, did they not watch Mr. Rogers in his make-believe neighborhood where he crooned about honesty and kindness?


On the way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about what makes a young person do something like this. Was it peer pressure? Did they need 20 new pocketbooks for their Granny’s birthday? Did Granny need money for her drug habit?1438780590CxfQETXj1Fzy


Most of all, I wondered, would they ever change?


I’ve heard, “every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future” but did these people have enough hope in their future to want more from life than . . .  pain? It has to be pure misery to live a life filled with the stress of constant lying, cheating and enough hate in your heart (or stupidity) to take what belongs to someone else who has honestly worked for it.



People who terrorize good businesses are living wretched lives, and after I finish thinking about ways to sling my phone against their head, I really do want them to heal. I want them to grow and learn compassion and kindness. I want them to understand they don’t have to live with emptiness and mistrust.


By my calculations, the woman who stole clothing probably got away with $2,000 of merchandise at the most, and on top of that, since the alarm sounded, I know she was stuck with the dreaded plastic security tags on some of the items, so those garments will be damaged. The nefarious posse had to have snatched somewhere between $2,000 – $8,000 worth of pocketbooks, but that was the retail price. On the black market, they’d get much less. I’m calculating that if all these people got together a few weekends and raked yards or washed cars, they would have come out ahead, kept a clear conscious and stayed away from the devil.

The holiday season is near, and for some reason it always brings out the best and worst of society. Maybe this year, those who resort to pilfering will instead seek integrity, and maybe Santa will bring me a James Bond style phone that turns into a criminal seeking Frisbee.


This story first appeared in The Baldwin Times from Gulf Coast Newspapers.


  • After college I worked in a clothing store for a short period of time before my wedding. Two women were in the store one day. Both had large long skirts, suddenly right there in front of us, one began cutting the wires to the leather jackets, while the other started shoving the jackets under the skirt…seven jackets and there was nothing I could do about it. They brazenly walked out…minutes later the police arrived.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      WOW! That would have been scary! How did they keep them from falling out when they walked? Wait . . . I don’t want to know.
      Sad and weird!

  • I am glad no one was hurt — that’s the main thing. The trolls do like to come out to play especially at this time of the year. Probably better not to get involved so save your cell phone. The companies have insurance, believe me. Years ago when I worked as a retail manager, in our training we were told that if it came right down to it, do not get confrontational. Just say “here’s the money” (or whatever) and ask them if there is anything else they would like. None of these things are worth anyone’s life. True, the theives are the lowest of the low, but I am guessing they already know that.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      It make you wonder why and how department stores can stay in business.

  • Too bad those criminals didn’t have a Granny like I had. Veering from the straight and narrow would never have entered their minds. And yes, a little work does wonders to set your priorities straight.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      It’s all in how you are raised.

  • Omg Leslie Anne, I am shocked! I have never seen anything like that, but I do feel extra vulnerable during the holidays…today I was dropping off some clothes at a donation truck, and kept looking around afraid someone was going to mug me or jump in my car and take off as I was unloading the back! I bet with today’s security cams, those crooks will be nabbed shortly. You better finish your shopping on line, just to be safe 🙂

    • Leslie Anne says:

      The other part of the story that didn’t make the final cut, was that the gang in Pensacola ran into the parking lot as someone realized what was going on, and they pulled out their phone and took a picture of their license plate! I asked the next time I was there if the crooks had been caught, but the employee didn’t know. Be careful out there!

  • The New York Times had a story this morning about a long time house burglar in Florida. He was being chased by police and hid in a lake area. He called his girlfriend and told her where he was and then disappeared. His body, what was left of it, floated up 10 days later. He had been eaten by an alligator. Thank you, Mr./Ms. alligator. Criminals get more bold at Christmas, but they steal all year. It is a very sad statement for our country.


    • Leslie Anne says:

      Oh! Right when you said he hid in a lake, I thought . . . GATOR BAIT! You are right about the boldness of criminals getting worse. Maybe they should put an alligator by the front door of all stores.

  • Or if you had a little bam-bam in your pocketbook like I carry (hint-hint)…

    Two forces are in constant battle: good and evil. Unfortunately, when Eve bit into the forbidden apple, she unleashed the dark side of nature and it will always be warring with good and right.

    Dennis Prager wrote “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code,” which should be read to all children nightly. If we stuck to those, there’d be no need for a police force anywhere in the world.

    As for raking yards, I’m always lamenting that there are no longer any neighborhood kids to do chores like that! Too bad. They have time on their hands to get into trouble.

    Now be careful next time you’re shopping!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      I think I’ll stick to the phone as a weapon unless they pull out something worse. Then, Superman will show up to help me.

      I’m going to check into that book. It sounds like a good baby gift!

  • Leslie Anne says:

    I didn’t think about the “3” thing, but you’re right! I’ll be ready this time!

  • Leslie Anne…. pretty soon the cops are going to start following you since you seem to be a magnet for crime. I can just picture you – perfectly coifed hair and dressed to the nines throwing you phone at the guy’s head and tackling him. You know things happen in 3’s! Have a good weekend and stay out of crimes way!!

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