No Honor Among Thieves

, , , , , , , | Legal Right | January 30, 2019

The emergency callout in the supermarket chain I work in is “Mr. Steed.” I’ve heard it several times throughout my time working. Every single time I’ve heard it, it’s always been a stealthily calm, “Mr. Steed, could you please come to [aisle/service desk]? Thank you,” to deal with a customer who’s starting to get verbally abusive or threatening. Nearly all the altercations have happened at the registers, and the staff there are good at de-escalating situations, while I work in the deli at the other end of the store, so I usually don’t even hear the altercations.

I’m working in the deli, serving customers as usual, when I hear extremely loud shouting from what sounds like a group of young men, erupting from the direction of the registers.

The store announcement is desperately screeching, “MR. STEED! MR. STEED! MR. STEED!”

Many of the customers around me are looking extremely nervous, and some customers from the fresh produce section hurry over to the group of customers waiting at the deli, I assume looking for safety in numbers. I start seriously wondering if I should open the deli gate and let customers in behind the counter, just in case there is a serious risk to their safety. There is another, equally desperate, “MR. STEED! MR. STEED! MR. STEED!” call, I can hear all the able-bodied grocery boys running to the front, and the shouting at the front registers continues for about twenty seconds or so until I assume they are tackled by all the guys who answered the Mr. Steed call.

As I can’t see what’s happening and understandably, none of the customers want to investigate, I don’t find out the bizarre extent of what happened until about half an hour later, when one of the cashiers comes up to the deli during her break.

It started off as an apparently standard shoplifting gig that got caught. It was a group of three or four guys, and the cameras caught them stuffing things into their backpacks, so when they got to the front registers the cashier had to do a bag check. During this check, when all the stolen items were emptied from [Thief #1]’s bag, a wallet came tumbling out onto the pile.

It turns out the wallet belonged to [Thief #2], which I thought was rather funny, but evidently [Thief #2] did not find it so funny. An all-out brawl ensued right there at the registers, which explains the testosterone-saturated shouting I heard. Apparently, stealing from the store is fine, but stealing from your fellow thieves is not!

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