Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Twisted logic

I was doing the shopping at the supermarket this morning, when I spotted amongst the deodorants and shower gels, a prominent notice (right at head height on the shelf): "For your safety and security, we always prosecute thieves". Huh? Exactly how is prosecuting someone who pinches a can of deodorant for the benefit of MY safety/security, I wonder?

Deterring shoplifters is arguably for the benefit of honest customers generally in that if, say, one in twenty cans gets pilfered, the store simply jacks up the price of the other nineteen to make up for the loss. Whether the prospect of an actual prosecution is a deterrent or not, given the sentence the Court is likely to pass, is a moot point.

I'd be slightly more convinced by the argument that CCTV enhances my safety and security, although the store of course installs it primarily for their benefit rather than mine. Pickpockets and bag-snatchers are known to target other customers, but I believe it's relatively rare for a shoplifter to do so unless the customer gets in the way or tries to stop them. I have occasionally seen notices advising customers to keep hold of their wallets, purses, handbags etc - but much more discreetly and more infrequently. I suspect the store doesn't like either the nuisance value or the bad publicity.

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