Tesco and the Shoplifting Incidents
The Shoplifting Bloke with big nose
Late December 1963: This incident took place while I as working at Tesco on Goosegate, Hockley in Nottingham. (The only Tesco in Nottingham at the time).
I was manager of the Greengrocery Section at the time. It was 0800hrs and I was setting out the display, as I noticed this tramp-like chap with a heavy sack under his arm, and the biggest blotchy nose I’ve ever seen walk into the store and he said to me, in a refined sort of voice “Good Morning young man” and proceeded down the aisle to the tinned meats sections shelves.
As I was looking at him, a mate (Butchers cutter Ray Miles and old school chum) was filling the meat fridge opposite where the chap was, and we acknowledged each other. At that moment the big-nosed chappy opened the heavy sack, and scooped all the Fray Bentos corned beef tins into it – slung it over his shoulder, and proceeded to walk out of the store.
I jumped down from the trolley of potato sacks I was putting on the display as he passed me, and said; “Excuse me Sir…”
“Fair enough governor, you’ve got me!” Then handed me the sack, and he actually led me into the back and upstairs.
The manager joined us, and the police were called.
They arrived through the back loading door within 10 minutes, and you should have seen the beaming smiles on their faces when they saw the chap and greeted him with; “Hallo Arthur, how the devil have you been keeping son?”
One of the policemen handed out his fags to the other officer and ‘Arthur’, and they chatted merrily away for an hour or so. Eventually they arrested him, and he was collected by another officer who came to fetch him, and another old-time gossip session took place between they all, with laughter, back slapping etc.
After he’s been taken away, the remaining plain clothes officer told us that it was near Christmas, so Arthur always got himself arrested so he could be fed and looked after over the holidays.
The Shoplifting Lemon Jacketed Vixen
1964: I had been promoted to the grand title of ‘Trainee Assistant Manager’. The store manager’s name was Mr Wynn, and we had a new Assistant Manager, Mr Goodhead.
I was helping out on the tills, and unbeknown to me, Mr Goodhead and a store detective had been following this giant of a woman, wearing a bright ‘lemon’ jacket and had been seen hiding tinned products in her own shopping bag.
The first I knew of this was when Mr Goodhead, tried to stop the woman as she exited the doors, and she swung her bag of canned food around and into the face of Mr Goodhead, knocking him out for the count.
For some reason, she ran not out of the shop, but into it, and a chase ensued with me, Mr Wyn, a woman supervisor (Can’t remember her name) the store detective woman, Ray Miles and several other brave staff chasing her around the gondolas and shelves for a few minutes (Even at the time I thought this is a bit like a Keystone Cops film).
Then she ‘Lemon’ woman ran into the back of the store, up the stairs and into the warehouse, where she was eventually wrestled to the floor. Several cuts and bruises were suffered by the staff in this scrap, ‘Lemon was strong woman.
As we waited for the police to arrive in the warehouse, a rather weather-beaten Mr Goodhead appeared, with a hell of a lump of his forehead, along with a trickle of blood from his ear-hole.
Two women PCs arrived, and that set of the ‘Lemon’ again. It took the PCs and three of us to calm her down again.
Another police car arrived, and we managed to get her into the back of the Panda, not easy trying to carry 16 stone of unwilling ‘Lemon’ to a car, I can tell you.
We counted our injured. Mr Goodhead head injuries, sent to hospital three days off work – Our female supervisor broken nail, bloody lip and pulled hamstring, eight days off work – The Store Detective woman, bloody nose and scratched face – Ray Miles bruised testicles, Inchcock bit fingers and broken glasses.
Eventually we found out that the woman (Lemon) had received 3 months probation and a £20 fine.
Was it worth it I asked?
The Lincolnshire Chase
Tesco had got Bruce Forsyth and then David Nixon to do a visit to encourage shoppers to attend the reopening.
We only just managed to get everything ready on time, and I worked throughout the night, along with many others.
The opening ceremony went well, Mr Forsyth and Mr Nixon, especially Mr Nixon, ere true gentlemen and remained unflustered as their fans approached them.
After they had both gone, I had hoped to get some sleep in – but the codeword for a shoplifter came over the tannoy, so it was all male staff to the shop floor.
The distinctively dresses Teddyboy doing the shoplifting, skipped past the manager, and had it away on his toes, with me in pursuit.
Eventually I had to give up the chase, I bet he’s not been working all night.
Then it dawned on me… I was lost.
Eventually, after asking for directions repeatedly, I got back to the store, just in time to start my next shift.