RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Apr 2nd 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Game Quest, Game Store, Video Games, Buy, Sell, Trade, Shoplifting, Stealing, Batman, Vigilantism

Running your own business can be very rewarding. It also comes with it's fair share of headaches. Shoplifting and theft is a constant problem for pretty much any retail establishment. Here are some of our stories regarding the subject.

When we first opened Game Quest, we were in the downtown core of Prince George. It was not the most ideal location, but the rent was priced right. I say not the most ideal location because it was wedged inbetween the low income housing, soup kitchens, pawn shops, and local income assistance office. Basically, if you were looking to place your business in the area of town that offered up the highest population of troubled people, we would have been a prime candidate.

Things went fairly smoothly for the first few weeks, we didn't really lose any stock to shoplifters. But then, very early one morning, our alarm system triggered while I was working my night shift and my wife had to head down to the store with our son to meet the police. Someone had smashed open the glass window on the door and was attempting to reach in and unlock the door from the inside. Luckily the alarm must have spooked them and they didn't get in. It certainly sucked, but it could have been worse. A friend swung by and helped me attach some plywood until we could get the window replaced. We reinforced it the best we could, but just two days later (the day before the new glass was to be installed) the alarm triggered again in the middle of the night. Someone brought a crowbar and was trying to pry the wood off the door to get in. Another close call, but thankfully they were not able to get in. The new glass was installed and all was well.......or so we thought!

Just a couple months after that, after we had been open for 6 months in total, the alarm went off in the middle of the night once more. Again, it was while I was at work during my night shift and I wasn't able to make it down to the store immediately. My wonderful and patient wife woke up our son again and made the trek down to meet the RCMP officers waiting at the store. This time, the culprits made it in..... They had smashed the window, crawled under our wireframe door guard and went straight for the cash register. They grabbed a few items from the cash right next to the register, as well as a small amount of cash that was in the till. All in all, they made off with about $200 worth of cash and product. Not a huge loss in inventory, but with the cost of replacing the glass yet again and the lost income while we cleaned up all of the glass and blood (he crawled through the broken glass to get in), it felt like a big, personal blow. The CSI that came commented on how his job was rarely this easy as there were blood samples, fingerprints, and show impressions all over the place. He collected his samples and was on his way. This was just over two years ago now and we've never had a suspect or any goods recovered.........

After this incident, we started having discs disappear from cases with some kind of regularity. Fortunately, most theives take what is familiar and not really what is valuable. So the odd Gears of War, Halo, or Grand Theft Auto game was lost (gotta watch out for Xbox 360 owners, can't trust those guys!). As far as shrink goes, it wasn't terrible. Then one day, I got a call from my staff that someone had snatched a PS4 off the counter and just simply ran down the street with it. We called the RCMP and reported the serial number as stolen, but nothing was ever recovered.

A couple weeks later, I was working by myself at the store and talking to a customer about an Xbox One system we had for sale. Just a few short minutes after that conversation, I noticed the machine was gone. The same customer that seemed interested was still in the store, so I thought, "Where could it have gone?" I quickly ran outside and looked down the block and saw a couple speed walking away with a large green box under one arm. I ran down the street as fast as I could after them and luckily the traffic was busy so they didn't notice me coming up behind them until I was very close. I caught them off guard and snatched our system back and quickly returned to the store.

Over the next few months, we had more and more systems go missing, so we kept moving our inventory to make it less accessible (something that pains me greatly as I want people's experience with us to be as tactile as possible). However, people kept finding ways to sneak product out. After losing a few consoles in one masterful robbery, we checked out security tapes to find a scam that just blew my mind. A friendly mother of three that had become somewhat familiar to us was in the store talking with me and sending the occasional text. She was asking me for recommendations for games for her kids. While I was walking around the store with her, she would send off the occasional text message. While reviewing the security feed, it became apparent that she was texting her kids that certain areas of the store were left unsupervised and were prime targets for theft. They spent about 15 minutes carefully maneuvering me around the store to get specific products that they stuffed into their collective bags and left after purchasing about $20 worth of games I had recommended and $150 worth of items they had stolen. This behavior was becoming more frequent, and as we checked the security footage, we saw people that I knew by name and had become friendly with take advantage of me by distracting me with friendly banter while their kids/significant other/friend loaded up with our product.

Eventually, we were able to move to a far less seedy part of town and all seemed well again......for a time! We had about 6 months of bliss at our new location when we noticed that someone had cut the barbed wire on our fence and snuck into our yard at night. After a little investigation and with the help of our neighbours at Rona, it seems that someone had shoplifted a pair of wire cutters from Rona just a couple days prior and then used them to break into our yard. We have an alcove outside that stores some cheap sports titles and our cans/bottles that havn't made it to the bottle depot yet. All in all, they made off with about $30-$40 worth of stuff, mostly bottles. It still sucked having to deal with fixing the barbed wire. Just days ago, we had a Rona employee come over and ask if I could swing by the store to check something out. It turns out that someone has been breaking into our dumpster after hours and taking our garbage over to Rona to tear into it to see if there was anything worth taking, and subsequently leaving a huge mess there. So now we have to lock up our garbage :/

Real photo of Crabmaster on the case!!!

Most recently, we had a very interesting robbery. We have some consoles setup in our back area that we use for events such as Smash Bros, Street Fighter and Minecraft. We have never really secured them, but with recent events, I decided we should probably do so. I bought some plumbers strapping and bolted each of the consoles to our shelving. I ran out of time to add the L-Brackets I had purcahsed and figured I'll do it tomorrow, they'll make it through the last 4 hours today.......I should have just stayed late apparently. That night, four young men came into the store.  Three of them distracted my staff, while one was in the back reefing on our systems to get them out of the strapping. They ended up taking a Wii U (that the Smash community had put their own money into for DLC characters), a PS4, an Xbox One and four 360 HDDs. Ouch! This was our worst loss yet and it stung and felt personal.

I put a post on our facebook page for anyone with information on the theft to contact us and reviewed the tapes with my staff. Luckily, the thieves had a friend who wasn't very bright and brought the Xbox HDDs back to sell them to us two days later. My staff called me immediately and I rushed down to the store to talk with the guy. He wasn't one of the guys from the tape, but he gave me a list of names and an address for one of his friends. I immediately went to his house to try and recover my systems. He wasn't home so I asked him mother some questions and didn't get much. I camped outside their place for many hours hoping to catch him coming home or them trying to dispose of our stuff. They did take a few suspicious loads to the dumpster, which I sifted through, but didn't find anything that belonged to us. After a while, my wife noticed that amongst the apologetic and advice filled facebook comments on my post there was a kid who simly said, "Holy!" and tagged his friend. We pulled up his friend list and sure enough there were a few of the kids from our security tape! I was still at the house waiting for the kid to return, so I knocked again for the third time that day and showed his mom some pictures of the kids from facebook. She was able to identify one of them and get me a phone number. Once again, it wasn't one of the kids that actually stole stuff, but at least it was someone who knew them.

After talking on the phone with this person, he seemed very eager to not have the RCMP involved in which I told him I'd be happy to drop the subject if I got my systems back. He said he'd call his buddies and round them up. After a lot of messaging and calls from unidentified phone numbers that day, we arranged a meeting at a Tim Hortons the next day to get my machines back. He was very late, but did show and returned my PS4 and Wii U consoles. Apparently the friend that had the Xbox One had been beaten up and the system was stolen from him and pawned at one of our local Pawn Shops. Luckily, most of the Pawn Shops were very friendly with me after years of purchasing from them and being in close proximity when we were downtown they would frequent our store also. I spent the next day checking in with them and most were very open about if they had taken any systems in and would check serial numbers for me. Unfortunately, the one pawn shop in town that wasn't so open is likely the one that has our system. Their response was simply, "We wont check for privacy reasons, get the RCMP involved if you need it back." And so we did. Even so, I know we won't recover it as its obviously a low priority for the RCMP and there is a short time frame before they can simply sell the machine to someone else.

This ended up being more of a vent than I orignally planned it to be when I started writing and I'm sorry for that. It may sound very pessimistic because of the subject topic, but I really believe in people. This is just a very small number of people making things difficult for my business, while most people are decent and trustworthy. I know there is no way to eliminate theft completely, and some of our business practices leave us more open to it than we should be, but I refuse to make the typical customer experience worse just to reduce our shrink by a few percentage points. Thanks for listening to my rant Smiley

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Wow, Crab.  This was very dark, and I guess apt considering the article title.  I think most of us straights don't necessarily think about theft and robberies when we read your articles, but in reality they are unavoidable.  It certainly brings me back to my managerial stint at a formerly massive VG store chain and the problems with shrink (haven't heard that term used in a long time).  Truthfully, I think most of us would have wanted to throw the towel in entirely after the sixth or seventh incident, so kudos to you for sticking with your venture.  Well, I hope the good outweighs the bad by far and I'm looking forward to your next article.  Thanks for sharing!
To be honest, those are somewhat tame compared to what I've seen in our area at Play 'n Trade. I hope that's all you have to deal with.

A local Play 'n Trade store setup an advanced security system that included magnetic seals on the doors at night, after being broken into twice. What did the robbers do? Break into the store next door, and break down one of the walls to get in. No joke. Another one involved a truck smashing in the front of the store.

Unfortunately, shrink is a part of the business, especially if you want to provide the tactile feel that makes people more likely to impulse buy your product. I'm not so sure I would personally get involved in tracking down my own product, but at the same point the RCMP isn't doing anything for you. Please don't get yourself into a situation that you can't get out of for $1000 worth of product.
I'm Batman, there's always a way out........
It really sucks to hear about the dregs of society and how people steal, but unfortunately they exist. Sorry to hear of all the trouble, and it sucks worse that you have to be your own crime fighter. Time to buy you a cowl and a cape.
CANADA: The worst place on the planet.

Lol, pretty much
This is what I like most about this series. You don't pull punches and you talk about the good and the bad regarding owning your own business. My local store has been broken into a few times as well and it always breaks my heart to see small businesses have to deal with that kind of thing. I want to echo what Shadow said, PLEASE be careful when confronting these people. I know you're not getting the local support you deserve, but think of the wife and kids if something happened to you. Also, what would we do without you around? I'd have to step up and take your Collectorcast spot. Wink
There are definitely a lot of ups and downs. I think it would be impossible to speak truthfully about owning the business without going back and forth between the positive and the negative aspects. Hopefully there has been more positives though.

PS - didn't you see the part about me being Batman. No one asks Batman to be careful Wink

PPS - get your own podcast!
What are you talking about? Why do you think Batman doesn't have any women around? They tell him to be careful, and he tells them he's the Batman.
@Shadow Kisuragi:Batman has plenty of women around. Talia, Selina, Vicky, and the hoards that Bruce Wayne has at any time Wink
Man, it sounds like you have had to deal with a lot of petty theft.  Sorry to hear, but I'm sure nearly every business has to go through these kinds of things.  That tactile feedback portion is an important component, though I would suggest leaving consoles behind the counter, or at least in a glass display case to make them harder to get to.  Just like storing game discs in sleeves behind the counter, so customers can browse the cases, and maybe make off with the occasional manual, but can't get much else of value outside of that.  It's hard to strike a balance, but I'm sure you'll find a way to make it work.  Keep your chin up!
Thanks for sharing some of the darker parts of store ownership. I hope that you spend less time as Batman and more time as Crabby.

I'm sure you have enough stories you can fill your own Book of Gord (http://www.actsofgord.com/)

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