They’re a group of covert, organized, self-proclaimed shoplifters who work together. They’re an interconnected group of people using the blogging platform, whose content restriction is notoriously loose, to prop up their community.
Spend enough time in the #liftplay tag on the blogging platform and you’ll see that this massive group have streamlined the process of making a fully-functioning shoplifting blog.
Here’s how it’s done, in a nutshell: They find other users in the #liftplaying community and follow as many as possible. They diligently protect their identities by rebranding themselves, changing the name of their community, and switching up the hashtags they use to archive their posts in order to fly under the radar of those not in the community.
It’s simple: People neatly arrange and then photograph each item they stole and add a caption detailing the brand, price, and description of each item.
None of these bloggers publicly post their whereabouts.They never say their name, where they’re from, or any other pertinent personal information. They do, however, feel enough of a sense of security to tell each other just what they did to avoid being caught. Liftplayers tell everyone how they got away with it.
“Tips” on how to successfully shoplift are incredibly common online and in the liftplay community, giving liftplayers an inventory of the tools they need to get away with shoplifting. The techniques vary in difficulty, some of them being simple enough for anyone to try (slipping nail polish into your tall boots as you crouch down to “look at colors”) to incredibly risky, like how to steal a MacBook:
Liftplayers go into certain "named" retailer stores to scope out the store layouts and policies and figure out how to maneuver around security. They then divulge tried-and-true camera blindspots, the stores’ tagging methods, the attentiveness of sales associates, security in the dressing rooms, and more. They even go into detail about tags and pins, listing different kinds of security tags that are used in major retailers, how to identify them, and how to remove them.
To protect themselves, Liftplayers claim that what they do is “roleplay,” that none of it is real, and that they’re simply lying about shoplifting hundreds or thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise. It’s impossible to tell who's lying.
Liftplayer tips include:
1. WHAT TO WEAR: Never look like a shoplifter. Dress casual- conservative. Wear neutral color clothing that isn’t notable whatsoever. Make sure your jacket has an inside pocket for concealing smaller items. Make sure it can hide the outline of anything in your inner pocket.
Never drop things down your pants. Very obvious. If you have knee-high boots, you can put small things in them. Never put shoplifted items in a back-pack or purse. Never wear the same thing to shoplift.
2. STORE CAMERAS: If you must scope out the cameras in a store by looking up and around, do it on a trip when you’re actually buying something and take nothing. It’s better to scope out cameras by looking out of the corner of your eye.
Don't be put off by signs such as 'shoplifters will be prosecuted' or 'security police patrol this store'. Often this is bluff. There is no security measure that cannot be undone by a clever shoplifter. Do, however, keep your eye on security and on video surveillance cameras. Often, it's just one guy in a room looking at 50 screens while reading the paper or glued to the box. These monitors are usually pretty small and have a wide aperture, showing more of the room but not enough detail to adequately see what you are up to.
Only about 5 of their 100 cameras actually work in big stores. Store cameras are often fake or not being watched unless they are in a high-traffic area like the main hallways, electronic department, pharmacy, and makeup department. Cameras in busy departments always work.
3. BLIND SPOTS: Be aware of store camera blind spots. A good method is to take what you want to your blind-spot, leave it there and come back and and collect it all later. If you think that they are watching you, then load up, go to the toilets and pass the stuff under the wall/partition of the cubicle to a waiting friend in an adjoining cubicle and get them to leave with it.
A blind-spot is a section of the store where you are barely visible. Display units make perfect blind-spots -- below the chest -- around waist high. Blind-spots are good for loading into the lip of your pants or into a jacket. Make sure your blind-spot is not under surveillance and never hang around your blind-spot for too long. Be careful to never lead store detectives to your blind-spot. Keep your back to the camera as much as possible without looking suspicious.
4. FLOOR DETECTIVES: Be aware of other shoppers who may be "floor detectives". They may look like street people. There is no such thing as a standard store detective -- there is no qualifying dress code, age, race, gender or class.If you see them more than once in your vicinity, abandon your shoplifting plans. Seriously. If you notice anyone making eye contact with you, following you, watching you, standing too close to you… anything suspicious at all… drop everything. If you notice the same person in the same place as you more than twice, abandon any goods you might be carrying and exit. The floor detective can't stop you on the curb before you enter the parking lot.
5. POCKET SLITS: Some shoplifters cut slits in their pocket lining, so they can reach for items without being seen. While one hand is inspecting an item, the other hand that is inside the pocket can discreetly grabs something. Only conceal an item if you’re positive you’re not being watched by another person. This includes other costumers.
When you cut a slot into the lining of your coat pocket and deposit things, if you’re stopped, turn out your pockets… nothing there!
6. OPEN BAG: A large open bag is a common shoplifting tool. It is placed at your feet, and objects are casually dropped into it at a camera blind spot.
7. ITEM COVER: A newspaper, store brochure of shopping list can cover up and hide small objects.
8. UMBRELLAS: Umbrellas with handles are handy for shoplifters trying to steal small items. A common tactic is to keep a closed (but not snapped) umbrella hanging on one's elbow or leaning against a counter to drop items into it.
9. SUBSTITUTIONS: Wear old shoes into the store. Try on the shoes you want. Make sure they look similar in color. Place your old shoes in the old box and put the box back. Leave. Get in and get out as quickly as possible so they don’t have have time to notice you. If you get out fast enough, they can’t stop you for shoplifting even if they know you did it.
9. BRING MONEY: Always have some money on you when you shoplift. Buying something at the same time that you take something. Approaching staff for items you are sure they don't have and pretend that you are looking for it, so you have an excuse for being there.
10. CHANGE ROOM: Put two garments on a hanger like you are carrying one garment. Go to the change-room. Put on one of the garments underneath your clothes. Change-rooms staff only care about the number of hangers you exit with.
11. REFUNDS: To get a refund for a shoplifted item, take an item that people often take back - like sheets, household items, books and other small but expensive items such as computer software. If questioned for a receipt, you can say "I didn't plan to bring it back" or "it's the wrong size, color, brand." Refunds work particularly well around Xmas time when you can say "I bought it as a gift but they already had that one."
Buy an expensive item from a chain store. Get a receipt and keep the bag. Go to a different store that carries the same item and bring the empty bag and receipt. Put the identical item in the bag and get a refund.
Never take an exchange item to the store that you shoplifted it from. Take it to another store that carries the same item.
12. TWO FOR ONE: Another commonly used technique is to take an empty bag from the same store where you already bought an item. Get a second one of the same item and put it in the empty bag with the receipt.
13. SAFELY LEAVING THE STORE: Always double back just as you are about to leave the store. Check if anyone is following you. The store detective must follow you out of the store before they approach you. If people suspect you are being followed or watched, dump your stuff in an empty aisle. It's better to leave with nothing than get caught.
14. BE CONFIDENT BUT NEVER GET TOO CONFIDENT or you will start to make silly mistakes.
15. REUSABLE BAGS:
If you use re-usable bags, go to the pharmacy and buy Q-tips as a cover for whatever you will put in your re-usable bags. Keep the receipt handy after you’ve made a purchase. Go to the washroom and move concealed shoplifted items into your bags. Go back into the store.
16. TIMING: Never shoplift at the same store more than once or twice a month. Be adaptable. Go shoplifting on busier days and at times when the store is low. Travel about to the same chain in different locations.
17. HOW TO ACT: Don't look suspicious. Check the price on the item you’re taking as if you intend to buy it. Compare it to another brand but don’t make a show of it. Do what you would do if you were going to buy something you’d never tried before. Be calm. Take whatever method is best for you at the time. A small item can be shoved up your sleeve without getting noticed. Keep your hands in sight at all times and don’t act suspicious.
Example - lipbalm: Pick it up, take it to the washroom, open the balm, use it on a piece of toilet paper to make it look like you’ve had it for a while, flush the toilet paper & packaging, then pocket the balm.
18. CHEAPER ITEMS: Most stores don’t care abut an item worth less than $20. Keep your hauls small and frequent with the dollar value as low as possible.
19. BEST AGE: Shoplifters who wear granny costumes are likely to succeed. If You Are Under 5 or Over 70 Years of Age, the store detective is not supposed to stop you. This is a rule for many chains. At five years or younger, you are not responsible for knowing you've committed a crime by taking something.
Senior citizens are major shoplifters. Whether they’re motivated by financial, psychological, or thrill-seeking reasons, seniors are stealing each and every day and most of them get away with it. No store wants to detain a senior citizen who may have a stroke, heart attack, or seizure after they've been caught stealing. It also doesn't look good in front of customers when a store detective brings in some grandmotherly looking woman for stealing a bottle of Advil. It's bad for business. This doesn't happen at every store, but more and more, retailers are looking away while granny is helping herself to merchandise.
20. WASHROOM TRICK: If the shoplifter uses the washroom to conceal an item, the store detective is supposed to let them go.
If the shoplifter conceals an item inside a stall in the fitting or dressing room, by store policy, the shoplifter should be able to walk out of the store without fear of being stopped. If the restrooms have a sign saying, “No Store Merchandise Beyond This Point,” however, the rules are different.
Since the shoplifter concealed the item while they were in the restroom, there is no way the store detective could have seen it happen. They may guess you have the item on your person, but there is no visual proof. Many times if a person takes an item into the restrooms and leaves without it, the store detective will do a scan of the stalls and wastebaskets checking for tags or empty packages. Even if the detective finds evidence of theft, they must not act on it, Remember: If they didn't see it, it didn't happen.
21. LINE YOUR SHOPPING BAG: If you line a shopping bag with foil you can defeat the electronic article surveillance (EAS) alarms at the door that beeps if a security tag is applied to the items you have stolen.
22. RULES OF THE GAME: Think of shoplifting as a game between two sets of people: the shoplifters and the store detectives who are sometimes referred to as loss prevention or LP. They exist because large chain stores want to avoid lawsuits and ensure an airtight case against a shoplifter. Know the rules they must follow.
They must see the shoplifter select the merchandise and know that it belongs to the store.
(Sometimes people bring their own merchandise into the stores with them.)
They must see the shoplifter conceal the merchandise in their pockets, coat, or pants, inside a handbag or backpack, or simply inside the shopping cart (some shoplifters fill a cart with merchandise and walk out of the store.)
They must maintain continuous observation of the shoplifter to make sure the shoplifter doesn't change their mind and dump the merchandise someplace. The LP officer cannot see an item concealed and then go outside and wait for the subject. If the LP stops a suspected shoplifter and they have no merchandise on them, the store cannot make a case against them, and the shoplifter may sue for wrongful detainment.
No matter how good a store's camera system is, there is virtually no such thing as 100% continuous observation.
The LP must apprehend the shoplifter outside of the store. This rule ensures that if there is a confrontation between a shoplifter and the store detective, it will not happen inside near happy shoppers. No store wants to make their shoplifting stops public. Though rare, both shoplifters and store security have been killed during shoplifting stops.
If the LP didn't see it, it didn't happen - even if another store employee witnessed the theft. The store detective is the only person allowed to make an apprehension. If the store detective does not see the person steal, the subject must be allowed to leave the store freely.
If the Shoplifter Refuses to Come Back Inside the Store or Chooses to Run, They Will Be Allowed to Leave.
23. STORE ALARMS: What Happens If the Alarms Go Off on a shoplifter? The alarms or EAS towers are not a means to catch shoplifters and cannot be used in court against the shoplifter. They are there to deter them by looking intimidating at the door. They discourage amateur (but not professional) shoplifting. If someone from the store responds to the alarm going off, they are only allowed to ask you if you "forgot to pay for something." They cannot threaten to call the police. There is no evidence.
The store detective is prohibited from running after you or touching you physically in any way.
Why? Liability. If you run away from a Loss Prevention detective when he/she stops you, the detective cannot pursue you. In fact, depending on which store they work for, the LP is not allowed to step off the sidewalk to stop you.
24. IF YOU GET CAUGHT: Lie and admit nothing. Don't act tough. Even though some stores say they have a policy to call the police it is not necessarily true and they may just get you to sign a statement which says you'll never enter that store again.
If you receive a letter from the store asking for compensation, ignore it. It is not legal.