I have a growing fascination with petty thieves.
Nicking stuff is not something I've wanted or needed to do, but I am surprised by the number of two-bit pilferers walking among us.
Unlike business owners and their staff, who no doubt can spot a shifty shopper the minute they mosey in the door with their hands in their cavernous pockets, I've never had a radar for robbers.
This all changed with retailers' growing use of the Wall of Shame, a gallery of CCTV stills of people who they strongly suspect have nicked something from the shelves. Men and women are equally represented on these walls. The mode of dress varies from the basic Adidas tuxedo, double denim (known in some parts as the Canadian tuxedo) with a few loose cannons in footy shorts and flannos and the odd business suit or floral dress.
One of the largest Wall of Shame galleries I've seen is in a nearby chemist.
It gets a lot of action.
Recently, I was waiting in line at this chemist when there was a kerfuffle in the makeup aisle. A "beep!" announced that someone had left the shop. Another "beep!" flagged that a long-suffering shop assistant was after the exiting "customer".
"We've got a live one here," I thought.
The breathless shop assistant returned empty-handed. But that wasn't the end of it. "She's going on the wall," the shop assistant declared. "Straight to the wall!"
Like a jury, me and the other people in line agreed the action was warranted.
We gravely shook our heads and looked at the rogues' gallery. There wasn't much wall space left to accommodate a new face.
I returned to the pharmacy a few days later. There were a few new stars on the wall, but each perp's portrait now noted what they had snatched. It was an interesting addition. It fleshed out the characters.
It seems the light-fingered brigade like to put their best face forward, as a lot of free makeup walks out the door. All the nicked items were well-described. Included on the missing list were: Revlon long-lasting lipstick; Large pack of Band Aid Tough Strips; Vicks Fever Insight Thermometer; A2 baby formula etc.
But one over-confident looking man in the frame just had "PACK OF CONDOMS" scrawled across his snap. No further details. It was brutal.
It was an upper-case upper-cut.
Shame. Shame on you sir.
That said, I fear that if I turned to shoplifting from a chemist my hot items would make for a sad and sorry list. Here's a sample: jumbo bag of (budget) cotton balls; anti-frizz hair serum; polka dot shower cap; bag of jelly beans (chemist brand).
It's not exactly gangster. More granny or nifty nan, except they would have pocketed Butter Menthols.
I'll keep an eye on the Wall of Shame in 2021. If I see you on it, I'll totally dob you in.
But my silence can be bought. A jumbo box of facemasks and a mouthful of jelly beans should do the trick.
If not, you're nicked