Law & Order: Social Media Unit

August 29th, 2011 · 55 comments

Kelly in Halifax was on her way to the bus terminal when a note in the window of a small souvenir shop caught her eye. A few days later, she spotted an update, too.

On Facebook, YouTube...PLEASE HELP ME FIND THEIR PARENTS. They need to know what their children do outside their homes. Their shoplifting behaviors should be stopped and corrected. Collin, please turn yourself in. If not, a criminal charge will be made.

On Facebook, YouTube...PLEASE HELP ME FIND THEIR PARENTS. They need to know what their children do outside their homes. Their shoplifting behaviors should be stopped and corrected. The young man on the photo has made an apology to the store. His photos will be removed when he pays for the products.

(And no, the black bars weren’t present in the original photos.)

related: Well, that’s one way to get your landlord’s attention.

FILED UNDER: Canada · Halifax · public shaming · retail hell · stealing

55 responses so far ↓

  • #1   pony girl

    I love it!
    I would go in and buy something just to say that the fliers are a great idea. I hate thieves with an unending passion.

    Aug 29, 2011 at 10:02 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #1.1   jan alles

      I love this, the little bastards deserve that….blimey how embarrassing!

      Aug 30, 2011 at 12:20 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #2   Katie

    this is why i want to move to halifax.

    Aug 29, 2011 at 10:08 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.1   Nunavut Guy

      Dam!Someone stole all your capital letters.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 6:10 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.2   lyx

      …and your N.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 3:09 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.3   Nunavut Guy

      I’s been gotchyud!!!

      Aug 30, 2011 at 9:25 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #3   LGH

    I love wall of shame pics from security cameras, too many parents think my little darling would never do this. Yes they would. Shoplifting is a popular hobby among a lot of teens & they do it whether rich or poor.

    Aug 29, 2011 at 10:09 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #3.1   Lisap

      To clarify further: the shop is, as mentioned, a small souvenir shop along the waterfront in Halifax (read “un-necessarily pricey tourist trap”). It is incredibly unlikely that they were even stealing anything they would even use, most likely shoplifting for the sake of something to do.

      Sep 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #4   Marie-Ann

    Fantastic! I’m all for naming and shaming. More places should do it :)

    Aug 29, 2011 at 10:15 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #5   Quite Contrary

    The shop owner is smart to focus on facebook and youtube, instead of twitter. You can maximize embarrassment without the silly constraint of 140 characters.

    Aug 29, 2011 at 10:17 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.1   JetJackson

      I hope they uploaded the video and the ‘tagged’ Collin.

      Aug 29, 2011 at 11:11 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #6   Canthz_B bang

    I laid a criminal charge once, but the State moved her to a different youth home soon thereafter and I never saw her again.

    Aug 29, 2011 at 11:21 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #6.1   lily


      Aug 30, 2011 at 10:12 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #7   smelly old man

    I approve of putting up flyers to shame shoplifters, but I don’t like the fact that they’re just leaving the photos there until he can pay for the stuff he stole. That makes the amount of shame time a shoplifter gets dependent on how quickly he can find the money, which is unfair since some children have more opportunities than others to obtain money.

    It would be better to leave them up for a fixed period of time so all shoplifters could be shamed equally.

    Aug 30, 2011 at 4:14 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.1   Morgan

      Eh…maybe he needs to ask his parents for the money! I bet he doesn’t want to do that!

      Aug 30, 2011 at 4:50 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.2   The Elf

      Getting him to pay for the merchandise is the point of the exercise, that and shaming him from doing it again. Both are accomplished with this act, so even though it unfairly favors kids with more access to money, it makes perfect sense from the retailer’s point of view.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 7:35 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.3   Goldenkat

      But, they shouldn’t be shoplifting in the first place. The store owner who lost goods doesn’t care if they are poor or rich, they didn’t make the bad decision to shoplift, they simply want restitution and for it not to happen again to either them or another store owner.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 7:52 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.4   Sensible Madness bang

      It’s not like it’s difficult to come up with that kind of money quickly. They just need to rob another store to pay back this one.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 8:36 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.5   Suzi

      I would assume they’d also accept him returning the goods, which should be possible regardless of his rich/poor labelling.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 9:19 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.6   Mrs.Beasley bang

      Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.
      - Baretta Theme

      (Wait – didn’t Robert Blake do a crime and not have to do the time?)

      Aug 30, 2011 at 10:01 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #8   Christine

    Is it me, or are they stealing from the woman’s make-up section? Now that raises a few questions over their motives. I’m thinking there’s three potential reasons. 1. (And the most likely) They are wee feckers who just enjoy the randomly stealing stuff. 2. They’re poor and it’s their mum’s birthday. 3. They are closet drag-queens and were compelled to steal by a need to hide their alter-egos. I’ve clearly thought too much about this!

    Aug 30, 2011 at 5:08 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.1   Xenobio

      My guess would have been “trying to impress girlfriends”.

      Aug 31, 2011 at 1:15 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #8.2   Risha

      “And I must admit, I got caught nicking stuff when I was 15, and I was nicking makeup, back in Boots in Bexhill-On-Sea. I could’ve bought it, I could’ve saved up and bought it, but I thought, if I bought it, someone might say, “Hey, you’re a boy buying makeup! You must be a trans-vestite!” And then I’d have to go, “Oh, Sherlock Holmes! How did you get to the bottom of that one, you big, deer-stalker, weird, fucking hat person?… and they caught me! But I was 15, so they let me off with a warning, which was,

      ‘This lipstick is not gonna work with this eye-shadow, no way! That’s light blue, that’s a death colour! You want a bit of foundation in this, that’s very cheap foundation.’


      ‘That’s a warning!’

      ‘Oh, thank you, Chief Constable.’” – Eddie Izzard

      Aug 31, 2011 at 6:50 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #9   iseefishtanks

    I like the idea of the sign, but maybe their shoplifting behaviours could be stopped and corrected by calling the police? I believe in catching this stuff and nipping it in the bud while they’re young. They aren’t doing the kids or society any favors by not making them take their consequences. I do think the signs are pretty cool, though.

    Aug 30, 2011 at 7:09 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.1   The Elf

      Depends on the parents. I don’t know about you all, but nothing the police could have dished out against me as a juvenile (who presumably would have gone peacefully and not fought) would at all measure up to what Mom would have had in store for me after she picked me up from the police station.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 7:39 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.2   merkin4

      The police have certain restrictions on the punishment they can inflict. Parents, on the other hand, have almost no such restrictions and they know exactly which buttons to push.

      For example, the police aren’t allowed to sell your X-Box on ebay to pay for the stuff the kid stole.

      The police can’t make you wear a sign in front of the store reading “I’m a dirty thief who stole a Hello Kitty lunchbox from this store.”

      The police can’t make you drop out of football.

      The police can’t make you eat eggplant and brussel sprout casserole every meal for a week.

      And finally, the police can’t sign you over into indentured servitude to the store – to paint the exterior, clean the glass, polish the floors, and dust the merchandise every day for a month as restitution (above and beyond payment for said items).

      Aug 30, 2011 at 9:40 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.3   Clumber

      merkin4, we must be long-lost siblings. Did you ever have to shovel all that %$ dirt out of Dad’s trench? Then put his dirt back in that #%#ing trench asap… and so on…. I mean I earned that sort of meaningless labor. And to this day (I am early 40s) I fear disappointing my dad more than anything.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 10:09 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.4   The Elf

      Amen, Merkin and Clumber. And that would have been just the start of the torment.

      Of course, the worst punishment would have been the inevitable *sigh* *crushed look* “Elf, I’m so disappointed in you. I thought I raised you better.”

      Police can’t top that one. Not even with tasers. A court will give a first-time juvenile offender a slap on the wrist for shoplifting. Parents? Oh, you’ll be punished for YEARS. Decades even, if you count the tipsy wedding speech.

      Of course, all this assumes the parents are willing to actually BE parents and not kid’s best friend.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 11:56 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.5   merkin4

      Dad had a woodpile – scraps from the lumberyard where he used to work that we burned in the wood stove. For major punishments, we’d have to restack said woodpile. We also had an 80-acre farm, so it wasn’t unreasonable for him to punish us by making us pick up rocks out in the pasture. 10×5 gallons for little kids, 50×5 gallons for the older ones.

      Now Grandpa, on the other hand, had a different set of threats. When the male ear piercing fad was going around, he made it known that if any grandsons wanted a piercing, he’d be happy to do both ears with the same bullet. When a cousin dropped out of high school, Grandpa sent him a well thought-out Christmas present – several pairs of heavy work pants, leather gloves, and a Spanish/English dictionary so he’d be able to talk to his boss.

      And yes, the job of a parent is to lay down the rules so someday the kid can move out on his/her own and have a productive life. I’ve seen the parents who want to be friends, and then they wonder where they went wrong when they are “helping out” with child support payments, bail money, or when Junior won’t leave the basement and find a job.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 1:53 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.6   iseefishtanks

      Oh, don’t get me wrong! As a parent I would want the police called AND I would mete out my own special brand of punishment (I love the xBox and Hello Kitty suggestions)! Nothing says you can’t do both. I just want my own kids to learn these painful and expensive life lessons long before they reach the age of majority. I don’t do them any favors to let them get out of any part of it. But yeah, probably my punishment would be worse than what the police could dish out.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 3:48 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.7   Clumber

      Elf – I once had to split a forever amount of wood… and we didn’t have a fireplace. No, he bought the wood solely as a lesson to me, and gave it to a friend of his when it was finished. I still get the shivers when I see a large pile of logs waiting for splitting… I would much rather, at the time, sat in Ju-V. Or been clubbed with a billystick… Just not THAT LOOK and the blisters… OMFG the blisters… (Went to a concert during school week that I had already been told no about. Yep – I earned that punishment and it was NOT worth it.)

      Aug 30, 2011 at 4:54 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #10   Dr. Chalkwitheringlicktacklefeff

    I like the concept, but you’d think if a store owner has pictures of someone stealing something, they’d post the ones of them stealing something – not the picture of them standing looking at the shelf moments (presumably) before stealing something. I see absolutely nothing illegal going on in the specific photos they’ve chosen to use.

    Other than that; Team Store.

    Aug 30, 2011 at 7:56 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.1   Clumber

      There may not be a frame that shows an obvious theft AND good shots to ID the thieves. They probably just picked the frame with the best view of their faces.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 10:10 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.2   VM

      Looks to me like guy on left — the one the red marker is specifying as the shoplifter — is caught in mid-pocketing with his left hand, though at this size of picture who can tell.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.3   Dr. Chalkwitheringlicktacklefeff

      It looks to me like he’s just leaning casually on his elbow. I think Clumber’s explanation is more plausible.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #11   SC

    hahahahahahaaha…. police…. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA… you said police??


    Aug 30, 2011 at 8:11 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #12   Beesus

    that’s straight gangster of said shop-owner. Let’s be real, nothing is scarier than an enraged mom and/or dad.

    Aug 30, 2011 at 8:45 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #13   Zorin

    I sometimes wonder what sort of discipline kids get at home these days.

    Had I been caught stealing stuff as a kid, my entire home life would have been completely annihilated through the wrath of my parents.

    My video games and computer time were everything to me when I was a kid. They would have been taken away. (and were for short periods, several times, for minor transgressions. Shoplifting would have been the end, period.)

    Aug 30, 2011 at 10:40 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #14   redheadwglasses

    A local convenience store would post bad checks in its outer window so everybody walking by (downtown!) could see the names and addresses (and bank account numbers, now that I think of it) of the people who wrote bad checks then refused to cover the $ once contacted.

    Aug 30, 2011 at 11:59 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #14.1   Danny

      A bank account number with a negative balance is not particularly appealing to your typical miscreant.

      Aug 31, 2011 at 9:58 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #15   Zhopka

    And as for me, I am completely against this sort of hall of shame. Really, no one on this entire site sees any problem with blackmailing minors by making their pictures public? Blah blah blah, they deserve it, etc. Sure. But like someone already said, call the police. This kind of moral public executions (shaming people by posting their photos) is exactly what “my” country did to everyone who wasn’t liked by someone else, for the entire 70 years of its existence. Then “your” country went to Cold War with “my” country, arguing that your individual-rights-based ideology is better. And then… the good old righteous public shaming methods get engaged once more. Ah, it’s almost like being back home again.

    Do note that, objectively, we don’t REALLY have proof of these kids stealing anything. Technically, apology isn’t proof – they could have apologized just to get rid of the pictures. Still, everyone gets a kick out of the whole thing, feeling morally superior and all, according to some of these comments here. Hmm… I kinda find the whole development to be brilliant.

    Aug 30, 2011 at 5:08 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #15.1   FallaciousArgumentsFTW

      Are you really comparing shoplifting to dictatorship and ideoloogical subversion in kgb-era Russia? Seriously, you just forgot the punchline, right? In Soviet Russia, argument fellates you?* If I look at all the capitalized letters in your post, are they an anagram for ethical acrobatics?

      *riffing on the internet joke, not being a racist bastard

      Aug 30, 2011 at 9:11 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #15.2   Pit Pat

      Nova Scotia’s not *that* cold.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #15.3   Kchristene

      This is from Canada, not the USA….

      And for all we know they did try to go to the police and nothing was done. They aren’t exactly going to make it a priority to go search out who the kids are and press charges, when there are unsolved murder cases hanging around. When I worked in the mall near here if we saw a shop lifter and called security, they couldn’t even do anything except stand by and “assist” us in making a citizen’s arrest, or at the most ban them from the mall if we asked them for the item and they willingly handed it over… if it was in their purse and they refused to take it out there was nothing we could do.

      Aug 30, 2011 at 9:30 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #15.4   Xenobio

      The storeowners can’t be COMPLETE idiots – if they didn’t have proof that the kids were thieves they would be at risk of a libel or defamation lawsuit.

      Aug 31, 2011 at 1:18 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #15.5   The Elf

      Uh, no. Public shaming is a completely appropriate way to handle situations like this (minor thefts by juveniles) and has zilch to do with individual rights. Nonconformity and freedom to be you pretty much ends when you cross the line to criminality. It’s a minor crime, but still a crime. If they had been posting pictures of people doing things the store owner does like but are not crimes (like wearing their pants too low), then maybe you’d have a point.

      Besides, in some places being branded as a shoplifter would hardly be shaming, except to the parents. Some punk ass kids view thefts as some sort of mark of pride, to be bragged about. They’d veiw an arrest with even more pride. There’s no getting through to those kids, but you might get through to the parents.

      Aug 31, 2011 at 6:43 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #15.6   Clumber

      There is also a difference between gov’t retribution verses community retribution. I tend to feel that in cases that are minor in terms of gov’t GiveADamns community-based punishment/callout is acceptable within reason, and in my opinion (which is often wrong) posting the kids’ photos is well within acceptable. Now if the flyer called for a stoning in the town square or asked that someone bring the store owner the kid’s head on a plate – well that would be different. I was a bit startled, too, by the posted decision to leave the photo up until the items were reimbursed for, but perhaps it is understandable. Hell, maybe the parents requested that. I can totally imagine my dad doing that and perhaps making me wear said photo on a t-shirt… lol. Though I didn’t shoplift so I may be far off about the punishment…. And I don’t want to think too much about that. ~twitch~ Anyway, I don’t see how this goes too far with the info given. Why involve the police who would probably not be as effective in ID-ing the kid, and sometimes shaming is more a deterrent than JuV. YMMV

      Aug 31, 2011 at 8:18 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #16   CdnGinger

    Whatever, Zhopka… I live in the murder capital of Canada. I’d rather have the police working on that than on chasing a bunch of punk kids who have too much time and too little supervision. I teach jr high… I can tell you that shaming most definitely does NOT compare to dictatorship, but it DOES stop bored mental midgets from doing it again… and serves as a warning to any others who think this may be a good idea for a good time.

    Aug 30, 2011 at 10:58 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #17   Zhopka

    LOL jeez, I must have my ability to express myself all mangled up, if anyone thought I was comparing these guys to a “dictatorship”. Sorry if that’s the case! Just to clarify – in case anyone has any doubts – “dictators” in “my” country didn’t hang signs. They sorta just went and murdered people. As I said earlier, signs were hung up by anyone who didn’t like anyone else. I mean that, guys. If you thought your neighbour drinks too much, you went to the other neighbours and together, you hung up a shaming sign with his or her picture. Then you went home, feeling proud (if a bit shaky from all the alcohol you yourself have had). Facts didn’t have to be a part of your verdict. Just like here, technically – no proof admissible in the court of law. Just a picture of two minors with a label “shoplifter”. Nah, I stand by my earlier post: this is brilliant.

    Aug 31, 2011 at 8:44 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #18   Zhopka

    (Oh guys, I’m so proud of myself, I found you an example! This is a piece of a well-known 1968 film; fastforward to 7:01 and, for a few seconds, you’ll see what I mean. :) No photos there, incidentally, – names are named instead. )

    Aug 31, 2011 at 9:17 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #19   Maya

    I got caught doing this when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Boy, did I regret it! Luckily they didn’t need to shame me with pictures, but I was plenty shamed anyway.

    Sep 2, 2011 at 7:51 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #20   Wat!

    This was in Halifax?! I am oddly proud of my city right now.

    Sep 5, 2011 at 6:38 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #21   Golgathoth

    They aren’t very good shoplifters, they didn’t even check for cameras. No creativity or observation there. It’s not even particularly difficult to avoid hazards like that when you’re a thief.

    Sep 10, 2011 at 9:57 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #22   Amy

    I’m curious as to why it’s considered more appropriately “anonymizing” to put the black bar solely across these youths’ eyes?

    I consider the redheaded kid’s hair colour to be more of an identifying trait than the shape and/or colour of his eyes.

    Sep 14, 2011 at 11:27 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #23   Kai

    XD Oh man. I’ve seen that sign too, and thought it would be perfect for the site, but never had a camera on hand. I think it’s a brilliant strategy, and more importantly, it worked.

    Sep 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up


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