Shoplifters will be prosecuted, publicised and parodied

Some might say you can’t write a blog about cheese, watches, and ninjas. They’d be wrong. Take your tongue and place it firmly in your cheek.

Fairly recently, but not recently enough that it hasn’t already been swallowed by other so-called news, British TV chef and professional Gimli impersonator Antony Worrall Thompson found himself in a bit of a (cheese and) pickle for stealing from his local Tesco supermarket. It gave me a few slow burning thoughts about shoplifting, which are just about ready to take out the oven.

Firstly, why on earth did he steal cheese? He’s a fairly renowned TV chef, he could probably get free cheese in return for an endorsement here and there. Did he have a falling out with his usual supplier, and suddenly find himself in dire need of cheese? Keener minds are suggesting it was a profile-raising publicity stunt, which makes sense given the amount of follow-up press attention he’s received (see him discuss possible childhood abuses to teddy-bear-faced-twat Adrian Chiles) and the hysterical permanence of the cheese and crime puns that have sprung from his actions. Tesco probably appreciate the publicity too.

The rubbish that people shoplift truly surprises me sometimes. If it was me, I’d steal the things I already have a weakness for, things with slightly higher monetary value, like hardcase laptop bags, sexy-as-fuck mens watches and the kind of trainers that someone as painfully un-street, caucasian and supposedly middle class as myself has no business wearing.

I suppose I’m suggesting that the wealthy or famous should only steal ridiculously expensive items, which isn’t particularly fair considering the increasingly problematic security that would surround them. If I found myself stealing jewels, cars, homes and African babies, I wouldn’t know what the fuck to do with them, but then I’m also assuming that the things I would steal are just as useful. No matter how inexpensive a watch is it still tells the fucking time, ninety percent of my out-of-the-flat footwear is the same shit-kicking pair of boots, and while I can buy as many hardcases as I want, I still need to accept that I don’t actually own a laptop.

When I worked in retail it was necessary to unlearn a few preconceptions about shoplifters. Instantly seizing upon the poor and tatty-looking and following their every move around the shop floor was considered pretty bad form, as was letting anyone in a cravat or waistcoat do whatever they wanted, even if that included slipping whatever they wanted into their pockets and treating every package like an unopened free sample.

It’s totally the wrong way to go. If anything, the poor and tatty (those often followed around by mournful violin music) are in that situation because they pay for things, and would probably be much better looking if once in a while they stole something instead. Meanwhile the supposedly well-to-do and patronising (who are followed around by a more triumphant oom-pah-oom-pah tuba marching chorus) are perhaps only in that position due to how little they’ve managed to spend and how successful they’ve been in their thievery. You might catch one group on the cusp of changing into the other, but it’s unlikely.

There are two main groups who are ideally suited to career shoplifting. Firstly there’s those with the right training and specific shoplifting equipment- stealthy types with CCTV scramblers, RDF screened bags, wire cutters, scanners and security key cloning tools. Although with that much dedication, training and technology, they might find their skills better pointed towards more high end crimes, or dedicated sector work in industrial espionage.

Then there’s ninjas. There’s a coffee machine. BAMF! There’s no coffee machine. Unfortunately the ninja tends to live quite a spartan and utilitarian life, and would have little or no use for most the items he steals, and would have to BAMF! them right back onto the shelves. Perhaps they might grow to learn the horrible truth that it’s just nice to have stuff, by any rate.


(Something a little more serious coming soon, I promise.)