Lots of people don’t think twice about stealing a drink or a pack of gum from the local deli. Not so for customers of Khim’s Millennium Market, who face the prospect of having their image marked thief and posted on the front of the store. Sounds harsh, but apparently the sticky-fingers epidemic among Williamsburg hipsters is enough of a problem to merit it.
We spoke with Charlie Khim of Khim’s, who said that the market implemented the practice to prevent repeat offenders.
“If they come and shoplift once, I don’t do it. But some of them come back. If they stay away I take the picture down one or two months later.”
There are currently “six or seven” photos up in the North 11th Street location (one of four in Brooklyn, all of which use the humiliation tactic). “I haven’t called the police on anybody yet,” Khim said. “But it’s getting there. The funny thing is, these people have money, they live in Williamsburg. But they’re still shoplifting.” Commonly stolen items include drinks and condoms, along with dog and cat food (cost of food for our cat, Harold, when he was a kitten: $1 per can).
The images come from the store’s security cameras, and feature a shot of the perp circled in black marker with the word “Shoplifter!” scrawled at the bottom. No names, because “I don’t want to make a big deal out of it,” Khim said.
He said he doesn’t understand why the issue is now getting attention, because the practice of putting up shoplifters’ photos has apparently existed in New York for “10 to 20 years.” And, let’s face it, Khim’s method is not as draconian as this Chinese grocery in Queens where a sign says, “If we catch, we will take your photo for records and your fine will be $400 or you go to prison.” And they really will. (Take your photo and $400, that is).
Does the method work? “Kind of,” according to Khim. “I let them go sometimes even if I see them, especially if they’re ladies.”