Two different approaches to shoplifting were on display in downtown Salt Lake City this 4th of July long weekend. Call one the lone-wolf approach, the other the tag-team method.
Just after noon on Thursday, July 2, 2015, a 40- to 50-year-old white male with a shaved head and khaki pants was up to no good at Home Depot. He decided to purloin a sink faucet, but as he was heading out of the store, a loss-prevention office confronted him.
The shoplifter pulled a knife, cutting the officer on the hand before fleeing.
On Saturday, July 4, 2015, at Macy's in the City Creek Center, two young men were perusing the store when one put a baseball cap underneath the hat he was already wearing. As he headed for the door, another alert loss-prevention officer tried to stop him leaving. The second man, who was following, pulled out a knife and made the officer let his friend go.
I asked the on-duty public information officer at the Salt Lake City Police Department whether the apparently cautious behavior of the duo—one watching the other's back as it were—was unusual. He replied, "I don't think these people put that much thought into it."
They certainly didn't get very far. SLCPD officers working part time at City Creek arrested the duo at Harmons across the street.
Which reminds me of my colleague Colby Frazier's story, Rent-a-Cop
, in which he looked at the intriguing questions that emerge from corporations—be it the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or your average downtown business—hiring law enforcement to do part-time security work.