At 7:44 a.m., Janet brought in the first pick up of the day. The suspect was a young girl, probably no more than fourteen or fifteen years of age.
“Caught this one boosting a twenty dollar bottle of perfume,” Janet said. “When I went through her pockets, I found merchandise from two other stores. She’s been busy today.”
“Take her back to Room A,” Doreen said. “Try to get her processed and out of here in thirty minutes or less. I need you back on the floor ASAP.”
“I’ll do my best.” Janet dragged the girl down the hallway and around the corner. She opened the door to Holding Room A and disappeared with the suspected perpetrator.
Doreen strolled through the Hawk’s Nest, pausing at every station to survey the foot traffic in the store. Most of the activity was still on the lower levels. She was considering shifting more manpower from the sparse third floor to the more heavily trafficked first floor, when she stopped and pointed at one of the monitors in the jewelry department.
“There,” she said to the operator seated in front of the monitor. “Zoom in.”
Tom tapped a few buttons on his keyboard and then reached for the joystick on his desk. The camera zoomed in on a young black male with short jacket and saggy jeans that revealed six inches of his plaid boxer shorts. The young man was looking at lower-priced costume jewelry. He opened the door of a counter-top display case, took out a pair of earrings on a plastic card, turned the card over to read the price, and then returned the card to the case. He removed several pairs, and then moved to the next case.
“There.” Doreen pointed at the monitor. “Right there. Did you see that?”
“Uh, no.” Tom answered, shaking his head.
“I can’t believe you missed that. The kid boosted a pair of earrings right in front of your nose. Go clean your glasses while I take care of this.”
“That kid didn’t take anything. How could he? He needs one hand just to hold up his pants.”
“I know what I saw, Tom. If you want to continue working beyond this shift, you better start looking more closely.”
Doreen left the nest and headed for the security elevator located in the back of the loss prevention suite. She rode the car to the first floor and exited in the lingerie department. She walked the thirty feet from lingerie to jewelry. She spotted her suspect standing by himself at the end of a long jewelry case. He was still looking at costume earrings when Doreen approached him from behind.
“Come with me please,” she said as she grabbed the young man by the elbow.
“What? Who? What do you want? I didn’t do anything.”
“Come with me quietly and we’ll discuss this upstairs.” Doreen looked up at the taller man, seeking his dark eyes. She gave him a stern look. “You can’t escape. If you run or resist the armed security officers at any exit will grab you and hold you until the police arrive. Will you come with me quietly?”
The young man tensed and then shrugged.
“Alright. I’ll come. But you’re making a mistake, lady. I didn’t take anything. You’re going to regret this.”
“We’ll talk it over when we get upstairs. I’ll give you a chance to tell your side of the story. Now let’s go.”
Doreen took the young man by the arm and led him to the security elevator. When the door opened in the third floor security suite, she directed him to Holding Room D–the smallest of the four holding rooms. Doreen closed the door and locked it behind her.
“What’s your name?” she demanded.
“Jamal,” he answered. “Jamal Cruz. My uncle is John Rick. Perhaps you’ve heard of him?”
“Can’t say that I have.”
Doreen dismissed the suggestion. In twenty years of loss prevention, she had heard countless perps name drop some supposed relative who would “have her job.” None of the threats had ever amounted to anything.
“Age?” she asked.
“Thirty-four nineteen West Seventy-second street.”
“Do you have any ID?”
“In my wallet. Left rear pocket.”
“Put your hands on the table,” she ordered.
Jamal reached down and placed his palms on the table. Doreen pulled his wallet out of the back pocket of his jeans. When she opened it a wrapped condom fell on the table. She fished around and found his driver’s license, which confirmed the accuracy of his previous answers.
“How did you get here? Bus?”
“What the hell difference does that make?”
“Just answer my question.”
“I drove my car. The keys are in my coat pocket.”
Jamal lifted his right hand and reached for his keys.
“Keep your hands on the table. I’ll get to the contents of your pockets in a second.”
Doreen patted Jamal’s sleeves, squeezing his right forearm through the insulated fabric, moving to the upper arm, and then repeating the process on the other side. She reached into his coat pockets and removed a key ring and an iPhone from one side and a sheet of folded yellow paper from the other.
“Your Christmas list?” she asked.
“Yes.” Jamal hissed.
“A shoplifting Christmas list. How original. Your mother will be proud.”
“Fuck you, bitch. I didn’t steal anything.”
“Fuck yourself, criminal. Spread your legs.”