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Shoplifters Beware: This is Crime Prevention on a Whole New Level

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Shoplifters be forewarned, if you do the crime, you'll do much more than pay the time in Flushing and Chinatown. The New York Times today reports on this new trend of crime prevention. In a Flushing grocery, shoplifters caught in the act will first have their ID is confiscated and then are forced to pose with the stolen item for a defacto mug shot. So it's either pay a fine (of, say, $400) or the shaming photo will be posted on the wall of the store for all to see. Some photo arrays take the wall of shame to a new level, like NY Tak Shing Hong in Chinatown, which not only features the pics, but also names, addresses, Social Security Numbers and a description of the offenses like, “Stole Medicine” and “Thief.” Other stores have been known to parade suspected shoplifters up and down the aisles like a town crier, shaming the perp in front of fellow shoppers.

So, why not call the police—what's up with this vigilantism bordering on possible extortion? Well, apparently, the official punishment is not harsh enough. Mr. Wu Jian Shi, manager of Chang Jiang Supermarket in Flushing complains that the perpetrators are not always arrested and the punishment is too light (“The most they’ll get is 24 hours”). We wonder if we could translate this system to say, Saks Fifth Avenue during holiday shopping season.
· Stores Treatment of Shoplifters Test Rights [NYT]
· Photo Credit