Shoplifting or Not? A Local Business Owner Asks for Your Vote

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Business owners around the country are frustrated by what they say is an upswing in shoplifting. Southern Humboldt business owners have been fighting back. The business owner who wrote the following letter has been offering his employees a large pizza when they catch a thief. He thinks they may have caught one. He’d like your opinion.

Shoplifting or not?

I am so sorry, I may have just accused an innocent man of shoplifting from our store. I need your opinion, because there is nothing worse than soiling the good reputation of an innocent man.

This gentleman in the YouTube video goes by the name of Dwayne. He came into our store at @4:?? on Friday 9/9/16 as the time stamp indicates in the bottom of the video. He loitered around our store looking at everything that we have in stock. He asked the clerk where we kept the MP3 players. He soon lost interest in them when he discovered that they were locked up. He proceeded to wander about some more and eventually he went into the bluetooth speaker isle. Please note he has a rather flat stomach, with nothing under his tee shirt. We have a little trouble keeping an eye on everything because our store is incredibly busy, for which we are incredibly grateful. So, we sometimes backtrack on suspicious activity when we have some free time. One of our clerks noticed this man spent a few minutes in one of the bluetooth displays, so she went over to check things out after he left.

The suspect walks onto screen about 30 seconds in. The accused shoplifter leaves about 30 seconds before the video ends.

The clerk found that one of the speaker boxes, that was full before he came in, was now empty, and the speaker was nowhere to be found. (clue one) The clerk went to the security cameras, which are accessible on all of our point-of-sale terminals. The clerk watched him travel through the store and watched the same video that is shown in the YouTube clip.

You will see him pick up one speaker, open the box and look at it, put it back and then pick up and open another speaker. After he puts the second box back you will notice the white corner of the second speaker that he is fondling protrude beyond his body at his lower tee shirt on the right side. (clue two) The box goes back up but the speaker doesn’t. (clue three) He turns around and sits in front of some other items. At some point he tucks the front of his shirt in to conceal a rather suspicious lump in the front of his shirt. (clue four) If he is pregnant he sure started to show awfully fast. Most women would be jealous of his rather quick gestation period.

I must tell you that our in-store security videos are magnitudes sharper than what we can put on YouTube. So if it is important to you, we would be glad to show you our in store videos.

Now here’s the deal. I buy everybody on my crew a large pizza whenever they catch a shoplifter, so they are very diligent in catching thieves. The last time that that I bought pizza it cost me $120.00 including the tip. The speaker only cost me around $80.00. So I’m leaving it up to you, the reader, to tell me. If you were on a jury would you find this man guilty. Do I owe my crew a pizza?

More info: I caught up to the alleged thief Monday and confronted him. The man admitted taking the speaker out of the box but claimed that he put it down before he left. Our cameras show him leaving the store with a lump in his tee shirt. He was filled with self righteous indignation and demanded an apology. He said that he “helps people” and he doesn’t steal stuff. Do I owe him an apology?

Please vote, or comment.

Ernie Branscomb




  • Looks like something tucked in his shirt.

    • You owe one person a pizza. Not every employee.

    • Henchman Of Justice


      Flat stomach and no hump, to activities with 2 speaker boxes that were “fully fondeled”, to a hump and tuck, to being confronted AFTER SURVEILLANCE REVIEW…….

      and the dude starts smack that he is good, and blah blah blah…..

      Ernie, evil people pull faces daily, say they are here on earth to help…..are you sure the phucktard was not a local politician in disguise? Sarcasm…..looked like your typical soho/easternho drone….

    • Oh 100% he stole it! All the body language and the bulge in the stomach afterwards, just too much fiddling around with everything. Buy your employee a pizza and post an 86 photo of this guy in your store.

  • He stole that speaker!! 100% turn him in asap!!!

    • Because the speaker is only worth $80, there is nothing the cops can do. They could possibly book the guy, but unless the merchandise is worth $950 or more, he will walk. Cops have told many stores to stop calling in shoplifters unless the value is over $950.

  • J. Worthingham Fatback

    there was a smaller box on the second shelf, sitting on top of the larger item. When he left, the smaller box was gone. Based circumstantially on the video, I’d say you have a thief on tape!

    Plus all the screwing around with his pants/shirt would also fit the overall theft supposition.

    GUILTY! [edit] (IMHO)

  • Yep,sorry Erine it sure looks like him the video

  • The only thing you need to do is buy a pizza, and never believe a low life. Stolen absolutely. He never stopped messing with his shirt and kept crouching to hide it from site. Ban him from your store forever. People will keep stealing unless they get caught. Turn this guy in!

  • Looks like you’re buying another pizza Ernie!!! Busted!!!!!

  • I’ve worked in retail for a long time. In that time I’ve seen a lot of videos of shoplifters. Undeniably he stole that speaker. He’s not even very good at it.

    To the pizza… If you didn’t get the merchandise back, your crew did not “catch” a shoplifter.

    • There’d be no question Ernie would make good with an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink pizza feed if they’d grabbed him and got back the stolen speaker. But as it is, since someone on staff picked up on the fact that this lowlife ripped off the store and his sticky-fingered self is now 86ed, seems to me Ernie could at least spring for a plain cheese pie or two.

  • Yep. 100%.

  • Did he undo his belt too? Pizza Time!!! Caught on camera he’s stealing for sure

  • Incredible. What a scumbag. How did we raise such self rightous, self entitled little assholes…

  • im a loss prevention officer for a very big company… observation of this video is that he indeed stole the speaker in question…..i personally would have took it back from him BEFORE he left, 100% recovery is my game !!

  • Any story about what the community volunteers have been doing in town?
    I’ve heard they have hauled out over 15klbs of trash and over 500 used hypodermic needles from the trespasser camps in the past few days.
    Apparently there’s around 25 seasonal camps and 15 or so yearly camps.
    All on private property, all without permission, all filled with garbage, drugs and stolen items. Evidently, the collected trash had only came out of 4-5 trespasser camps! Imagine how much more is still in the remaining camps! I also have heard the trespassers where shitting in a creek. Literally using the creek as a bathroom. Human waste over 3′ high.
    Seems like there would be more attention to this problem.. What gives?
    Thank you to all the volunteers that are risking your personal safety to address this problem with thieving, littering, drug addicted Tresspasers.
    Thank you!

  • Sorry Ernie but you need to buy the pizza. In Dwayne’s (think that’s what I saw his name as) I do believe he’s helping others. Selling your merchandise for probably at least half your price. 🙁 keep up the good work and word will get out to avoid your place.

  • Post a picture of him on the entrance to the store saying he is banned.

  • Yup he stole something .Thats plain as day and he left with it. Its under his shirt. Regardless if the police wont or cant do anything he needs to be 86’d from your store. Cant stand a thief or a lier and he is both. Seems like if they get away with it once they come back for more.

  • The righteous indignation is the final clue. The guilty always pull that one.

  • Close to 5 minutes alone, concealed on three sides, and he was already flagged suspicious? The problem isn’t the theft. The theft is the result of the actual problem. The problem is two fold. Lack of customer service and bad merchandising layout. I own several retail stores and if someone comes in that maybe sketchy, they get the “gold service” because we are trying to avoid a theft. 2nd putting high end, high theft items at the end of an isle that gives you coverage on three of the four sides is bad merchandising and bad store layout. There are ways to merchandise that avoid these high theft areas. Your employee should be councled or trained as to how to deal with problem customers, not rewarded for allowing a preventable theft to occur. Until the real problem gets fixed you are welcoming more of the same.

    • Thanks Business owner, your are right. I won’t give you all of my excuses because I don’t want to reveal other flaws. But, it certainly is not my crews fault, they are outstanding and very conscientious.

  • Dyerville Loop is Not Alderpoint

    Ernie, see the cocked angle of his feet early on? says extra nervous but collected/ the rest of it is a no brainer. .we really appreciate your store. Bookum Danno .Thieves that steal from working class people should be__________! GUILTY!!!!!!!!!..

  • P>O>S …… em!!! Sorry but that is so obvious ….he is a shoplifter!!! Getting real sick and tired of thieves!!

  • By the virtue of his thievery no word out of his mouth can be believed. Typical sociopathic behavior: con and rob …only to blame YOU for reacting (as a normal person would! ) And oh! the indignation and gaslighting (“i help people!” ) lol. Riiiight and that has WHAT to do with the missing merchandise? Problem is, ppl like him have no conscience and feel ENTITLED. It is all textbook sociopath behavior . Ignore. Ban. Stay focused on the truth. Firm boundaries. & pizza lolz

  • Definitely guilty! I work in retail I’ve learned all the tells of a thief over the last 3.5 years he didn’t put it back

  • Thank-you for all of your input. I already bought all of our poor overworked crew pizzas. Dewayne has been banned and his picture has been given to other merchants.

    P.S. we usually catch most shoplifters in the act and confront them as soon as they leave the store and get our merchandise back. Their high-res photo’s are shared with other merchants. The program has been very effective.

    They used to steal in a store until they got caught then move to the next store. They are quite surprised when they go into another store and asked to leave. I have had several people that I have asked to leave say: “But… I haven’t stolen anything here…) Several restaurants have also banned the shoplifters out of principle.

    Stunningly there are several stores that have a “do not apprehend” policy on shoplifting. One store recognised a shoplifter from my photo and called the sheriff department. They apprehended him in the act and hauled him to Eureka. He has become a very visible one-man-crime-wave. Ironically his last name is Branscum. (LOL)

  • I worked loss prevention in my younger years. A shoplifters body language is usually fairly tell tale, and this guy is no exception. One of his tells is that he is trying to appear as if he is browsing through items trying to decide if what’s there is what he wants to buy, but he’s glancing over things way too quickly. In actuality, he’s checking the packaging of each one to see which item easiest thing to open and conceal to steal. I also don’t think this was just a random act. I’m sure he did put a little thought into it before hand. He probably even cased the store a few times before hand in order to figure where the blinds spots are before attempting to pull off this big heist. Unfortunately, his choice of body hugging clothing was obviously something he apparently had not factored in.

    But he’s not as good though as the shoplifter I caught hiding things in a rolled up newspaper when I worked there at your store many years ago. This person had been in the store on numerous occasions and we (you, myself and all the other people who worked there at the time) even had become some what cordial with and trusting of him. Of course, we also didn’t have any cameras then, remember? BTW – Where’s my pizza? 😉

    As for for your speaker thief’s self righteous indignation, that’s just his feeble attempt to try to justify his crime and deflect away his guilt and embarrassment.

    I don’t think there’s any question that he did shoplift those speakers. And hopefully, he’s smart enough to fully understand that now that he’s been fingered by you and his crime has been published in online, all the local businesses will now have full eyes on him anytime he walks into one of their businesses, that is if they let him in at all. And he sound consider himself damn lucky that he’s not having to exchange those speakers for a set of silver bracelets and a trip to the Humboldt Correction Facility on the back of a sheriff’s patrol car.

  • The sixth, and most important point is, He admitted taking the speaker out of the box, but he said that he laid it down before he left. He went out the door with the lump under his shirt and the speaker was nowhere to be found in the store shortly after. Pretty compelling.

  • Damn. I sometimes tuck my shirt in when I’m in a store.

  • He said he “helps people” maybe he takes from the rich and gives to the poor… some kid that cant afford to pay 80 bucks for your speaker he was just helping some poor people

  • In my opinion this guy all-of -the -sudden got a real case of upper jock itch or; When he stooped down or over became engorged and because he was riding commando style his junk made him appear as if he had stuffed a speaker. yep he’s proud to be stuffer and has the need to feel and look BIGGER and will continue to take and stuff other people’s property to satisfy his need.

  • He obviously entered the business with the ‘intent’ to commit petty theft. That’s the definition of Burglary, a felony. Read section 459 of the California Penal Code.

  • Detective Clouseau

    This business owner states, at the onset, that his intention is to apologize for perhaps accusing an innocent person of shoplifting. He professes to be “so sorry”, and to believe nothing is worse than sullying someone’s reputation. He then goes on at great length to do just that with video and a guess at a possible name of the person to whom he purports to be directing his apology.

    Clearly this business owner is not being sincere or truthful. Furthermore, if he does, in fact, spend another $120.00 celebrating this claimed loss of $80.00, it would seem to me that he is a very confused business person.

    I don’t like shoplifters, but I don’t care for whiny insincerity either.

  • Pretty obvious theft. Great camera by the way. More stores need quality cameras like this

  • It looks really odd and suspicious, but I can’t be absolutely certain. If I had to judge on the video alone I might have reasonable doubt, depending on his explanations. I would have to watch it many times.

    If you added as evidence that a speaker is missing and not accounted for in your sales, that would probably be enough to overcome reasonable doubt.

    What adds to my doubt is that if I was going to shoplift that way, I would wear some kind of jacket and not just a frigging tank top!

    • Eric, you are welcome to come watch our very clear video on our system. We have 16 camera angles. some show him walking cleanly from the speaker isle to out the door with his loot under his shirt, without “setting it back down” You are also right, he wasn’t very discrete. Most compelling evidence was that he admitted taking it out of the box but claimed that he set it back down before he left. Video shows otherwise.

      Just like body cams for cops, a video changes everything.

  • I love the long look around for the workers whereabouts, while he pretend shops, before he makes his final adjustment to his new gut, and then leaves! Sad seeing what is suppose to be a grown man, behave like my 11yr old nephew.

  • At 2:39 he stuffs it in his pants. Plain as day.

  • I’m sure he stole something. It really upsets me that he stole from someone like Ernie. I know in the long run the price ultimately gets passed down to the consumer, but still. It would be tough to own a retail business. I would be in jail.

  • Bust that ass Ernie straight up theif he had his back to the camera fiddling with something for too long .prosecute to the fullest extent of the law .

  • is this guy about 4′ 8″ tall and have red or reddish colored hair?

  • I love the humor in your letter, Ernie! Great job catching this thief! Still giggling about the quick gestation period…. lol….

  • Tweekers always steel speaker’s .

  • yeah hes a definite thief. obvious scumbag needs to go to jail. what a fucking piece of shit

  • Another photo for the Radio Shack wall of shame. Good work Ernie.
    Maybe some sort of shoplifter catching contest would add a little fun to a screwed up situation.
    At least some kind of trophy for the business owner.

  • Clearly he stole the item. He puts something in under his shirt and then keeps adjusting it to try to hide it better. Busted big time!!!

  • Pepperoni please!

  • kudos to you for your vigilence… question whether mirrors might be better alongside that display case… perhaps up to 5 ft high, so natural light could still get in from above, and perhaps cameras could catch mirrored image of him from the front putting it in his shirt… no retail experience… just wondering…

  • Oralee McAlexander

    Yep he stole that speaker!

  • You can see his intent has he slowly looks at every item in the isle. Then has his back to the camera as he is obviously doing something with the merchandise and his shirt at the same time. And, SOMEONE stole the speaker. This evidence (of this suspect shoplifting), would be submissible in court. At very least, 86 him from your store.

  • I would certainly be doing a stop and question on this guy….he messed around for way too long rearranging his pants and shirt before he turned and left…..I would say he is a thief…..

  • Makes me mad what a piece if shit! Looks like he must know where your camera is also? I would put several more at different angles

  • Gosh, I wish every business was this savvy! Great use of media to offer public awareness!

  • I confronted a thief who stole from me. He was all about righteous indignation, from swearing “on all that’s holy” that he didn’t steal, to exclaiming, “You’re disrespecting me!”. This particular thief was photographed stealing, and still he protested his innocence. There is currently a $10,000 active bench warrant out for his arrest, but he strolls around with impunity. The police have everything they need to hand to the DA to prosecute, but nothing is done. If we ever end up in a WROL situation in this country, the thieves are going to find themselves without the protection of the law, and justice will begin to be served.

  • ERNIE, you own someone a pizza, and if you ever see this guy again, just let him know that he is not welcomed in your store again……maybe even show him this video…maybe show this video to the Sheriff dept……

  • “…Tweaker right by the speaker
    Never seem to get enough
    Priceless expression when space is possesion
    Like yeah, that’s the stuff
    Electronic, stereophonic, comin’ from the left and the right
    It’s good in the day, I like it that way
    But it’s perfectly normal at night…”

    -Keller Williams

  • No questions this guy is a thieving prick!

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