Loved Her Job
Chelsea Green actually loved her job.
After only three years, she moved up to become the store manager because of her good work and willingness to help customers.
But when she started seeing things going missing while doing stock take, it became her mission to find what was happening to their stock and who was taking it.
Tried To Be Helpful
It wasn’t always easy being friendly and helpful in her line of work.
She tried to the best of her ability, but there was always that one customer that would rub her the wrong way.
Although Chelsea had been to many workshops where they preached about “the customer was always right,” she and her colleagues knew just how wrong that statement was.
Rude And Unreasonable
They all had encountered their fair share of rude and unreasonable customers.
People who took chances and some who thought they could get the upper hand.
But Chelsea knew how to catch them out. It became a sort of trademark of hers, and her colleagues always called her when they had a particularly difficult customer.
A Way With The People
“Sir, you can’t return something after it was used for three months,” she would tell them.
Customers would try anything to try and swindle the employees of the department store, but Chelsea always had the upper hand.
Without being rude, she would immediately put them in their place and even get them to buy something else before leaving the store.
Stern But Chilled
That was how she got the position of store manager, and she loved being a leader to all her colleagues.
They loved how stern yet chilled she was. They couldn’t ask for a better manager.
She loved the store, and she made sure the employees always treated the customers with respect. But there was only so much that everyone could take.
There were times that Chelsea and the employees knew that at certain times of the year, things could and would get particularly out of hand.
And those were the holidays. Especially black Friday and Christmas time.
No two days brought around so much anger and anxiety to the store like those days. People felt like they had a ticket to be unruly.
Chelsea and the employees would always have a prep meeting before any of those holidays came up.
It was crucial to stay calm and, of course, be alert.
They heard about a lot of instances of theft happening on those days, and although it had never happened in her store yet, Chelsea always kept her eyes peeled.
On The Floor
She was always on the floor, walking around and assisting wherever she could. She wasn’t the type to be bound to her office for too long.
She wanted to be on the floor, in the action of the day-to-day occurrences.
She wanted to be there when someone asked to see the manager. She thrived in helping others.
There were, of course, the regulars, people she would see every week, and most of them were a friendly bunch.
They even congratulated her when she got the position of store manager.
But it was one of the regulars who would come to her one day to tell her about something she had been noticing.
Chelsea always found the time to have a chat with Mrs. Thompson. She was a friendly old lady that still drove herself to the shops and back. Chelsea always admired her.
It was on one of their chats that Mrs. Thompson said that she overheard something from her neighbor.
He confessed to having a range of new appliances that he had just “acquired” from Walmart.
Chelsea didn’t see anything wrong with the guy acquiring new appliances. Good for him. But then Mrs. Thompson revealed even more.
“You see, child, when I say acquire, I mean stole. And the way he was talking, it sounded like the goods came straight from your store.” Chelsea looked puzzled.
There were no instances of a break-in at her store.
Must Be Mistaken
“You must be mistaken, Mrs. Thompson. This store hasn’t had any break-ins.” And with that, Mrs. Thompson told her to just check her cameras and stock.
She left Chelsea wondering about what exactly happened and what was going on in her store.
She knew there wasn’t any way that what Mrs. Thompson described could get past her.
A Nagging Feeling
She wasn’t even sure if she wanted to look into it. As far as she knew, everything in her store was accounted for, and she trusted all the employees.
They were good people.
But at the same time, there was a nagging feeling at the back of her mind telling her to check everything that Mrs. Thompson had mentioned.
But before she did that, she called a meeting with all the employees.
She asked them if they noticed anything different about the store or about the goods they kept in the back.
When everyone said no, Chelsea knew that they were telling the truth. She knew that any one of them would come to her if they noticed a change, but so far, none of them have.
Her Mind Wasn’t At Ease
Even though her employees put her mind at ease, she still knew that she had to do the check. It was her job as a manager.
It’s not that she didn’t trust her employees. It was just to make extra sure that there indeed were no problems at her store.
She started by checking the stock.
She went through the latest stock take ledger. It looked like it was done the previous Friday.
She diligently went through everything. She looked for anything that might look suspicious, but nothing came up.
She went through it one last time and decided that everything looked in order. She breathed a sigh of relief. But she still had to check the surveillance cameras.
She knew she had to do a thorough check of this one. She didn’t want her reputation or the reputation of her store to be in tatters just because she missed something.
Her heart pounded in her chest as she knocked on the door of the security guard.
Lester was a great guy, and he worked at the store for over ten years.
She told him everything she knew, and he didn’t hesitate to pull up footage of the past few weeks.
Chelsea sat down next to Lester and began watching the surveillance footage.
Time seemed to stretch as Chelsea and Lester watched the countless hours of surveillance footage. They scrutinized every frame, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man Mrs. Thompson had mentioned.
Reviewed For Hours
Hours turned into days as they meticulously reviewed the tapes.
Chelsea’s determination grew with each passing minute, her mind consumed by the mystery that unfolded before her eyes.
Like with many employees in the store, Chelsea usually spent time with Lester, ensuring they had a good work relationship. If something were wrong, he would have already come to her.
Looked Through All The Tapes
But despite their efforts, there was no sign of any theft or suspicious activity.
The footage showed only regular customers, employees going about their duties, and the usual hustle and bustle of the store.
Lester and Chelsea looked at each other in confusion. They didn’t see anything that looked suspicious, despite going through all the old surveillance footage they had on hand.
Doubt started to creep into Chelsea’s mind. Was Mrs. Thompson mistaken?
Had she misinterpreted something she overheard? Or was there something more sinister at play?
Maybe she had to speak to Mrs. Thompson again and ask her exactly what she heard and who had said it. It could maybe lead them to something, and they could finally get to the bottom of it.
A Nagging Feeling
But Mrs. Thompson hadn’t come by the store in a while due to her ill health, and this setback meant that they didn’t know when they could talk to her again.
Unable to shake off the nagging feeling, Chelsea decided to dig deeper.
She started interviewing the employees, one by one, hoping to uncover any hidden secrets or unusual behavior.
As she delved into their personal lives and work habits, she discovered nothing out of the ordinary.
They all seemed dedicated and loyal, with no signs of involvement in any illicit activities.
But she did notice, however, that some of them seemed very nervous when she began asking them certain heated questions. Could the thief be closer than she thought?
But in the end, she came to the conclusion that all of the employees were innocent. But just as she thought everything was settled, someone knew all too well what she was doing.
She had no idea what the truth actually was. But her life would quickly change when a strange box came into her life without warning. She had no idea that it would change everything.
One evening, as Chelsea sat alone in her office, a package was delivered to her. It was a small, unmarked box.
Intrigued and wary, she cautiously opened it, revealing a cryptic note inside. Her stomach tightened into a knot. She was genuinely frightened.
Chelsea looked around. Who had delivered this package, and what did it mean? She nervously looked at the accompanying note. When she read it, her blood ran cold. Who was after her?
What Did It Mean?
“Sometimes the answers lie beneath the surface,” the note read, accompanied by a key. Chelsea’s heart raced, her curiosity overriding any sense of caution.
Things were getting very strange in her normally drab life. She worried she was the protagonist of a horror film.
Who had written this note, and what did it all mean? Could it be linked to the mystery theft that had been happening at the store? She needed to find out. But when the dust was settled, she’d wished she never meddled in the affairs of others.
The Storage Room
With the key in hand, she embarked on a journey through the packed storage room of Walmart. Guided by the cryptic note, she followed its instructions to a hidden door. No one knew where she was, if it was a trap she could have easily disappeared without a trace.
It was here that she inserted the key. Chelsea held her breath as she slowly turned the key and dared to push open the door.
Stacked With Boxes
Behind the door was a secret storage area concealed from prying eyes. As Chelsea entered, she found herself surrounded by stacks and stacks of boxes. The comparison to a horror movie kept flicking through her busy mind.
She looked at the note again, and it said to look for a box marked OST. Her pulse started rising as the anticipation got to her. Finally, she stumbled upon the dreaded thing she was looking for.
How had she been oblivious to this secret hidden room within her own store? She was the manager, and yet she didn’t know all the ins and outs of the store she was managing. She felt dread start to creep up her spine.
As she sifted through the box, searching for any clues, a chilling realization dawned upon her. OST stood for old surveillance tapes, and there, right at the bottom of the box, was one marked “evidence.” Could this really be it?
Falling Into Place
Chelsea’s heart began to pound in her chest, and she felt her palms getting sweaty. The pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place, and Chelsea’s mind raced with theories and suspicions.
She knew she had stumbled upon something far more sinister than she could have ever imagined.
The thefts were not random acts committed by a single individual. It seemed like this was a well-organized operation involving multiple people. Who could have been doing this to her?
Gripped By Fear
Fear and paranoia consumed her as she grappled with the realization that the thief or thieves were still among them, hiding in plain sight.
Every friendly face now held a hint of suspicion, every interaction scrutinized for deceit.
Chelsea shuddered to think about what would happen to her if the thief knew that she had found the evidence. Her mind wandered and she thought of the most terrible things. She had to get out of there.
A Rough Night
Without hesitation, she ran back out of her store and went home where she knew she’d be safe. She had a rough night, tossing and turning about in her bed as she tried to get some sleep. It was no use. She was too anxious to get to work and review the tape.
It was all she could think of, and by the time the sun rose, she was already getting into her car and racing off to work. With the sun out, she felt a lot more confident checking it out. But what would she find?
Closer To The Truth
Chelsea knew she couldn’t face this threat alone. The next day she immediately made her way to Lester and showed him the cryptic note and the mysterious tape.
Lester’s eyes grew wide with anticipation as they were getting that much closer to finding out the truth. He inserted the tape, and they began watching the footage. But if she had known what was going to be on there, she never would have meddled in the affiar.
A Long Day
They spent hours pouring over the newly found video, watching footage after footage as the day turned into night. They’d spent most of this time in conversation, but a solemn quietness invaded the office after a while.
It was too much for Chelsea to bear. She felt her mouth dry and she couldn’t speak because of what she was watching.
It took hours for them to go through everything, and after a time, Chelsea was ready to give up. Lester then offered to keep watching and would call if he found anything. She was reluctant, but she couldn’t watch any more.
Lester Steps In
Chelsea couldn’t accept the offer fast enough, although she felt terrible leaving Lester to comb through the hours-long videos alone. But as a manager, she usually arrived early in the morning, which meant she’d spent more than 15 hours at work.
Exhausted, she was so grateful for his help. She knew she had heaps of admin work waiting for her, and watching all that hours of footage just wasted some of her time. But she didn’t know the true gravity of this nightmare.
She hurried back to her desk, keen to review the day’s numbers before calling it a night. Her neck and back were sore, and she could no longer feel her feet.
But as she was about to sit down at her desk, Lester rushed into her office. “I think I found something,” was all he said. Chelsea’s heart sank. She didn’t want it to be true, but she knew that she had to face the truth.
As she walked down the hallway, her heart pounded in her chest. What was on the footage? She quickly sat down as Lester replayed what he had seen.
“Wait for it,” Lester said, leaning closer to the screen. Suspense flooded the room, making Chelsea’s skin prick. She wanted to ask him to forward the footage so she could see what happened, but she knew she had to be patient. But when she finally saw the footage, it would shock her to her core.
The two watched the footage for five minutes. “Almost there,” said Lester, his eyes glued to the screen. “I don’t know how I missed this before, Chelsea.”
Then he stopped the footage and paused it. He pointed to the screen. It was a man that seemed to be shopping as usual, but then, he did something that made Chelsea feel extremely uncomfortable.
Caught On Camera
The man placed some items in his cart while discreetly stuffing others in his pockets. He did it so fast that Lester had to slow down the footage just for Chelsea to see it.
She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Sure enough, they discovered that a man had been coming in and stealing all kinds of equipment and had been doing so for weeks. She had to fight back tears, how could someone do this to her store?
Chelsea was appalled. She’d long prided herself in being careful when it came to the store. She loved the amount of trust her employers and employees had in her and never thought she could disappoint them like this.
How could this have been happening right under nose her without her noticing? And then she realized what had happened. Her eyes grew wide. The truth behind it all would have tears rolling down her cheeks.
All This Time
Chelsea and Lester realized this was when Lester was on vacation for a month. Lester had been at the shop for nearly five years, and at the beginning of autumn, he’d take thirty days off.
Usually, Chelsea would find a substitute for him every year. She had recently brought one to take his place. It seemed like this guy hadn’t done a very good job. She couldn’t believe that this was all happening behind her back.
Thinking It Over
Chelsea was furious. All this time, there had been a guy coming in on an almost daily basis walking in and out of the store, and nobody noticed him.
She couldn’t be angry at Lester for not noticing this. He was on vacation when it happened, after all. But she couldn’t help but wonder why the other security guard never brought this to her attention. But once she learned the truth, nothing would be the same again.
The Same Man
Chelsea and Lester pulled up more videos of that month. They got coffee and some food and got to work, checking every nano-second of the footage.
The more they looked into it, the more they realized it was always the same man stealing items from the store. He had a pattern of coming in, taking what he wanted, and walking out without paying. But why was he being so blatant? What was his story?
She Couldn’t Believe It
Chelsea couldn’t believe someone could be so brazen as to steal from a store and get away with it for so long.
She was convinced she’d created a space where her buyers accorded her, her employees, and the store with as much respect as she accorded them. But there was no use in crying over spilled milk now. It was time to take action. Chelsea smirked, she would have the last laugh.
A Plan Formed
Chelsea gathered her team together the following morning. She informed them of what she and Lester had uncovered, and even they couldn’t believe they were being robbed in broad daylight without knowing.
Joining minds, they formulated a plan to catch the thief in the act. They set up a sting operation, making it look like they were unaware of what was happening. The thief would wish he had never messed with them. But they had no idea what kind of mistake they were making.
They wanted to catch him red-handed and were determined to do so. He’d already tarnished their name as an establishment where anyone could go in, take whatever they wanted, and leave.
In extension, he was putting everyone’s jobs in danger. Chelsea ground her teeth just thinking about it. She would be sure to teach him a lesson he’d always remember. But her fury was misplaced and she’d regret messing with forces she didn’t understand.
The Waiting Game
If he got away with it, then Chelsea was sure that he would be back again. They put their operation in motion, hoping to put an end to all of this.
But it was long before they spotted what could be the man they were looking for. When the man came into the store, Chelsea’s heart raced as she watched him walk around and take what he wanted. She felt anger pulse through every fiber of her being, How dare he, she thought. Enough was enough.
She had to stop herself from rushing him as he did his ‘shopping.’ He looked harmless, nonchalantly picking groceries, snacks, and small electronics from the shelves.
Chelsea knew they had to wait until he had taken enough items to make it worth charging him with theft, but it was hard to watch him walk out of the store without paying. Chelsea wanted nothing more than to confront him, but she couldn’t yet.
A Feeling of Helplessness
For the plan to work, Chelsea had to have the man commit his deed several times. She needed to make sure she had enough irrefutable evidence on him before calling the authorities.
But she felt a sense of helplessness as the days passed, and the man continued stealing from the store. She knew they were close to catching him, but waiting was a hard thing to do when it was her store at stake.
Every time she saw him walk out of the store without paying, she felt like they had failed in their mission to protect the store’s merchandise.
What would her superiors do if they knew she’d failed them this much? Was she doing the right thing by letting the man steal from them just to catch him on camera? She didn’t know if she was in over her head or not. The truth would have scared her.
The Day Arrives
All these questions kept Chelsea up at night. She realized that this was more than just a mere store for her. It was her life, and she would’ve given anything to protect it.
But finally, the day arrived when they were able to catch the thief in the act. Chelsea watched as he walked around the store, taking items off the shelves and putting them into his cart. She knew he would be begging her for mercy when she was done with him.
Into The Pocket
But as he did, he stashed others in his pockets, doing it with speed she’d never seen before. But she also noticed that most of the things he pocketed were way more expensive than what he had in his cart.
In fact, the man had been targeting some of the most expensive goods in the store, stashing them and leaving without paying. Did he have no shame? She needed to confront him now. If she waited any longer, she didn’t what she’d end up doing to him.
Chelsea knew they had to act fast before he had a chance to leave the store with the stolen goods. With Lester and the rest of the team, they got into position, ready to ambush him.
As the man walked towards the exit, Chelsea stepped in front of him, blocking his path. “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to come with me,” she said sternly. She was worried about what he would do when confronted. She felt herself freeze as adrenaline pumped into her body.
Calling In Back Up
The man looked shocked and tried to push past her, but Chelsea stood her ground. She called for security to come, and Lester showed up with his burly hands folded above his chest.
Muscles bulging through his uniform, he pointed to the back of the store where a lone door stood in wait. “If you don’t mind,” he smiled and escorted the man to the back room. Chelsea was glad she had backup, otherwise she had no idea what the man could have done to her. The truth was so close to her now.
The Truth Revealed
Once they were in the back room, Chelsea and Lester got to ask the hard questions. But the man didn’t want to fess up. He said he’d paid for everything in his cart, maintaining that it was unfair they were keeping him here.
He even threatened Chelsea, saying he’d press charges against her for harassment. But Chelsea wasn’t fazed. She thought she knew exactly what she was dealing with, but in reality, she had no idea what she was doing.
She walked to the man with a dangerous smile and asked Lester to pad his clothes. The crunching of plastic wrap sounded as unpaid store goods fell from the man’s pockets one by one.
Among them were expensive AirPods, batteries, and even video game controllers. The man had also taken limited edition snacks and clothing apparel. Chelsea shook her head. She had finally caught her thief, but her smug demeanor would be short-lived.
Who’s Suing Who?
“Sue us for harassment,” she said, her smile broadening into a smile. The man looked away, silently cursing as Lester arranged everything he’d stolen before him.
Chelsea kept quiet for a while, and seemingly intimidated, the man had no choice but to finally confess to what he had been doing. But when he removed the scarf around his face, Lester gasped in shock. It seemed that not everything was as Chelsea had thought it was.
They Know Each Other
“Shawn?” Lester intoned in a surprised voice. The man looked away. “I’m getting the feeling you two know each other,” said Chelsea.
“This is Shawn,” Lester answered. “He is a former employee of the store.” It seemed he had teamed up with another new employee and the substitute security guard to rob the store.
Shawn wanted to get back at the store for having laid him off. Chelsea had no context to any of this and had to take Lester’s word for it. But it was a sad reality for the thief.
A Sad Reality
Shawn had been laid off a few weeks before Chelsea got her job at the store, which is why she didn’t know him.
She felt a pang of sympathy for the man, but she knew that stealing was not the solution to his problems. He could have asked her for help, and she could have seen what she could have done. But now she felt ruthless, even with tears rolling down her eyes. Only one thing could help him now.
Calling The Police
She called the police, and the man was arrested for theft. Chelsea and her team worked with the police to provide evidence of all the items that he had stolen over the past few weeks.
They also handed in all the camera footage they had. Shawn, the substitute guard, and the other employee went to court to face the law. It was a relief to finally put an end to the theft and make sure that justice was served. But Chelsea had long lasting anxiety about the entire ordeal. Had she done the right thing turning him in?
Disclaimer: In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.