A 1980s Woolworths training video on how to catch shoplifters

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/08/27/a-1980s-woolworths-training-vi.html


Woolworths was still around in the late 1980’s?


“Follow the black guy around”


I want this as a Netflix series, narrated by this dude


I’ve been caught stealing
Once when I was 5
I enjoy stealing
It’s just as simple as that
Well, it’s just a simple fact
When I want something,
I don’t want to pay for it



Dick Deal.


LOL! I thought they went the way of Bohack at about the same time.

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Better yet…

In order to have a fire, three things must be available : heat, oxygen and something to burn. Remove any of the three it’s impossible to have a fire.
Stealing is the same, remove oxygen and nothing will be stolen in your store.


The one in my neighborhood closed in 94? I think. One of the last.

I believe that the narrator has ample experience with a lack of oxygen due to his emphysema.


Woolworths still exists, but they changed their name to Foot Locker.


Having worked in wine and spirits retailing for 7 years I have considerable experience with shoplifters (aka mysterious stock losses) and have the following observations.

  1. The main driver of shoplifting is understaffed shops. You cannot attend to the till and the shop at the same time. Your employer has simply decided that it they will lose less money through theft than it would cost to hire more staff.

  2. As a sales assistant it is not your job to prevent theft. This is why most medium size or above shops have security guards. It is contractually reasonable that you, as an employee, exercise due care and diligence to make theft as difficult as possible. It is not reasonable for you to put your safety at work at risk by insisting that sales staff challenge shoplifters. If you suspect theft call security. If you have no security let it go, it’s not your money. If it is your money, you should have hired more staff/got security rather than passing the risk on to your staff.

  3. The police will not be of any help unless violence has been involved. Even after repeated instances. Shoplifters know this too which is why they do it. Also, shoplifters, for the most part are only stealing because they need to. You may get the odd middle-class klepto thrill-seeker but these are pretty rare in comparison.

  4. Most thefts that I’ve come across are team efforts. Mostly distraction thefts, one at the till with a question/complaint and another lingering in the high value section. Also be aware of people casing the joint looking for shift changes, delivery days, colleagues at lunch, cashing up procedures etc. There is also the risk of getting ‘steamed’, ten guys walk into your shop and take whatever they want. You’re on your own buddy.

  5. Petty theft is just what it says. The amounts lost to shoplifting are absolutely puny compared to card fraud. Never let that card reader out of your sight or you could lose thousands in less than a minute.

  6. This guy has never worked in a shop. In the second example of till theft, the other guy is clearly busy doing some shop related bullshit. You tend to trust the people you work with and assume that your colleague is just getting on with their job while you get on with yours. It really isn’t his fault that his fellow employee is a thief.

Overall, it’s a tough gig but expecting your staff to take risks with their safety to save you a couple of bucks is an absolute dick move.


Woolworth IS still around here in Germany. I get my underpants there.


They were still around in a big way in the UK until 2008 when the financial crisis ended up in the loss of some 27,000 jobs over 800 or so shops.

I used to hate them (having worked as a temp in their head office human resources department - it’s a long story) but now I miss them. Where else could you buy bedding, toys, music, sweeties, household appliances, stationery, clothes etc?

An everything shop.Almost a proto-Amazon but just up the road who looked after their workers and paid their taxes.


Dick Deal knows what you did and isn’t surprised, just disappointed.


That happens a lot – older companies taking the name of one of their more successful subsidiaries and closing the original. Those in the Midwest of a certain age may remember the department store Dayton’s. They no longer exist, but their former subsidiary Target does, and the corporation renamed itself Target Corporation.


If you live in the North of England, you can still go to Boyes!

(It also sells fishing tackle in every location.)

There’s also Wilkinson, which does everything but clothes…

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