Darrin Lester stood outside Parker’s Clothiers on Sunset Blvd, eyeing the Italian leather jackets displayed in the front window. While they looked good on the mannequins, Darrin knew they would be debonair on him. He glanced down at his three-year old imitation leather jacket. It paled in comparison. At twenty-one, now was as good as a time as any to become more dashing. This bore some checking out.
Entering the store, he brushed past several suited salesmen and headed straight for the huge leather jacket display. Darrin picked out two jackets, holding them up for inspection. Hmmm. Chocolate brown or black? He laid the two across the rack and selected two more. Waist or pant length? What a hard decision, he thought. They all reflected good style, taste, and most importantly, money. He would definitely turn a few female heads wearing one of these. He spun a couple of the price tags around and nearly choked.
“May I help you, sir?” A salesman buzzed over and hovered at Darrin’s elbow.
“Uhhh…no. I…I…I was just looking.” Darrin slipped the jackets back on the rack. He wasn’t sure who was more dejected, him or the salesman.
Darrin moved over to another rack and pretended to be interested in the clothing as the salesman turned on his heels to seek out a buying customer. Darrin dared a glance at the leather jackets that were way out of his price range. He just had to have one and he decided that he wasn’t leaving the store empty handed.
Darrin pondered the situation only for a moment. The answer was simple. If he couldn’t afford one, he would just steal one. So what if the jackets had magnetic strips that would set off the sensor alarm at the shop’s exit. A plan formed in his mind. A grin spread across his face. He edged back to the jacket rack. All the salesmen were busy. There weren’t any customers nearby.
Darrin snatched up a jacket and darted into the nearest changing room. He methodically searched the garment, removing each and every one of the sticky magnetic strips. He easily peeled them from their hiding places, in the sleeves, collar, waistband and the pockets. Satisfied, after flicking the last of the impeding strips onto the floor, Darrin stuffed the jacket under his coat and boldly exited the changing stall, heading for the front door with it’s sensor alarm. Piece of cake, he thought, stepping through to freedom.
A loud, piercing alarm sounded, freezing Darrin in his tracks. A fatherly looking security guard appeared out of nowhere. He nabbed Darrin by the nape of his coat, dragging him back into the store.
“Hold on there, son. Let’s see what set off the alarm.”
Didn’t I get all those strips? How could I have missed one? Darrin stood mute while the guard frisked him. He gave Darrin a disappointed look as he unzipped the bulky coat, extracting the stolen jacket.
“Now, son, did you really think you’d get away with stealing? Those magnetic strips are a dead give away.” The guard searched the jacket. “What the …?” He searched the jacket again. He looked hard at Darrin. “There aren’t any strips on this.”
Darrin couldn’t believe it. If he removed all the strips like the guard confirmed, why had the alarm gone off? It didn’t make sense. Darrin thought quickly.
“The salesclerk removed the strips. Maybe your sensor’s busted.”
The guard leaned into Darrin’s face. “Were you stealing the jacket, son?”
Darrin was at a loss for words. He couldn’t explain his reason for stealing. He didn’t know himself. He only knew that he just had to have a jacket. And if the only way to get it by stealing, so be it, but he couldn’t tell the guard the truth.
“No, sir,” he lied. “I was buying the jacket for my brother. He’s in the mall and I didn’t want him to see what I bought.”
The guard shook his head. “Got a receipt?”
Darrin shrugged his shoulders. “Guess I lost it.”
“Okay, we’re gonna try an experiment.” The guard set the jacket on a display table and walked through the alarm. He turned around and beckoned to Darrin.
“Walk through the alarm, son.”
Not knowing what else to do, Darrin obeyed. Several people were watching his humiliation. This was not the type of attention he was looking for, he thought as the alarm went off again.
The guard pulled Darrin back into the store. He scratched his head a moment. He looked Darrin up and down, taking in his obvious worn clothing.
“Did you try to steal something else?”
“No!” Darrin was stumped too. Then he wondered if one of the strips got stuck to the inside of his coat.
As if reading Darrin’s mind, the guard gave new orders. “Okay, son. We can do this the long, hard way. Take off your coat and go through the sensor again.”
Darrin did as he was told, and again the alarm went off.
“See. It must be broken.” Darrin was beginning to believe that he just might be able to get away with the theft until the guard gave another order.
“Let me see your shoes, son.”
“My shoes?” It sounded like a harmless request. Feeling confident, Darrin complied. He slipped them off, handing the Reeboks to the guard. He turned the footwear over. Stuck to the bottom of each shoe were two magnetic strips. Darrin’s mouth dropped open.
“Now I’ve heard of sticky fingers, but never sticky shoes. Sorry, son, but you’re under arrest for shop lifting.”