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The sad fact of the matter is there’s a reason stores chain up the valuables and make tool corrals to keep the high-end gear in the store.  It’s because a few morons kill it for the rest of us.  Just the other day I was checking out the Bosch lineup at one of the local big-boxes and was quite pleased to see the drills and gear displayed where I could pick them up and play with them — no tethers or anything.  A day later I was there again, and two of the batteries were missing.  Two days after that, all four were gone and only the tools remained.

I asked about the disappearance and was informed that folks had walked off with them — they were surprised any of the batteries made it past the first day.  I know it should be expected that valuable, easily-palmed gear will disappear, but it’s still sad that it’s universally true.

It’s like kindergarten all over again.  We can’t be trusted with the really cool toys because some idiot, who eats paste and didn’t learn to respect other people’s stuff, screws the rest of us.  I realize I’m taking a bit of license here, but it’s better than taking display-model batteries.


20 Responses to Editorial: Dishonest Tool Grabbers

  1. forler98022 says:

    Very well said I have felt that way for years. What really ticks me off on that stuff is i bet most of them that are stolen are not to be used by some one who needs them but to be pawned or sold on craigslist.

  2. morga says:

    How hard would it be to make a few extra bodies for display models wherein the battery is enclosed and can only be taken out with a screwdriver? This seems like a more cost-effective plan than losing batteries

  3. Gary says:

    Well said. I worked in a grocery store in HS. I was always amazed at who I’d see attempting to steal things and what they’d do to try to get them out of the store.

    I agree with forler98022 – I always wonder what on CL is hot. I’ve held off buying there just because of that.

  4. Bugler says:

    I know people who wouldn’t dream of shoplifting but think nothing of deliberately damaging a tool so they can make a warranty claim on it. This has the same effect as theft–it increases costs for honest buyers.

  5. fred says:

    This is a dilemma in this country. We like the freedom and egalitarianism that allows anyone to shop in a big-box store. Those stores have introduced many DIY’ers to fairly high quality professional tools. Maybe they don’t carry the really high-end or all the specialty tools found at an industrial supplier – but they offer much more variety and a range of higher quality tools than what used to be found at the home centers and hardware stores of my younger days. The idea that you can stroll around the store and handle display items anonymously – without a sales person hovering or worse looking down their nose at a lay-person – is sometimes a good thing – but not if display items are stolen. Maybe the big-box fairly reasonable return policies are also a good thing – but not if tools are returned to the shelf with parts missing or broken. Like other freedoms that we have in our society, we need to recognize that they come with responsibilities. I would think that it should go without saying that one of those responsibilities is not to steal or condone stealing by others.

    The new reality also doesn’t quite make up for the old-style industrial supplier, where you sometimes could find a knowledgeable sales person who could help inform your purchase and let you try out a new tool to boot. I still try to deal with suppliers who know what they sell, stand behind their sales and offer repair service.

    To some extent the Internet has helped – providing opinion and information – but caveat emptor also applies here – and one obviously needs to sort through online reviews to see what one should believe. While the Toolmonger Blog is neither a refereed construction journal nor a consumer-reports-type testing vehicle – it is a valuable source of new ideas and opinion and I thank you for the opportunity to learn and contribute.

  6. Chuck says:

    That’s because a decent amount of people out there lack the important value of “pay what you owe”. Do so because you owe it, not because someone is trying to collect. If you need something, then work for it and then pay for it. It’s never right to take something just because someone is not preventing you from taking it. I mean, come on, there’s not even a challenge in this theft. Pop the battery out, stick it in your pocket and walk off.

    The only comfort I get when I hear about stuff like this is the concept of karma or “what comes around goes around”. Sometime, somewhere, through whatever you believe or don’t believe in, those people will be paid back for their actions. Of course, the biggest punishment is what stares at them from every mirror.

  7. paganwonder says:

    As in- ENRON, AIG, WAMU,et al. you mean?

  8. BC says:

    When I worked at HD, one of the more common things for thieves to do was to take cordless tools off the shelf and hide in the MAAX bathtub display. While back there, they’d remove the tool from the case, then stuff it in their jacket. The case would stay in the store along with all the Sensormatic theft devices. After we found 2 or 3 of them that’s when we started banding all the power tools. Other stores were doing it long before us, but we were relatively low theft for awhile. Course, smart thieves would just cob a utility knife along with the tool, and cut the bands, but it stopped the dumb thieves.

  9. Dave B. says:

    I was looking at a cordless impact Home Depot a couple of days ago and the chain that the tool was on was so short I had to lean up and over the shelve to look at the features on the tool. I know that preventing theft is important, but so is not pissing off the honest customer. I hate living in a society where everyone is treated like a criminal (ie. going to the airport). Just my two cents.

  10. Barri says:

    Whys does this dam page refreash every time i try to write something arghhhhhhhhhhh

  11. KevinB says:

    I’ve notice alot of banged up merchandise back on the shelves at the big boxes these days. I can’t tell if its customers in the store looking to peak at something or returned merch, this goes for Homies and Lowes.

  12. Fabian says:

    These stores should buy some cheap video cameras and arrest thieves on site.

    A computer store in Virginia, Microcenter would routinely arrest people trying to steal merchandise. They would prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.

    Once word gets around that you will get caught if stealing, it’s funny how fast the stealing occurrences went down.

    Hell yeah!


  13. Jeremy says:

    I wanted to test the cordless 18v makita drill/driver, but the demo unit had the chuck completely stripped. People had been using it to screw in the demo screws after stripping the socket they’d put out.

  14. Ken says:

    When the stores catch shoplifters they should publish their name in the local paper.Her is your neighbor the thief .

  15. Peter says:

    Some lowlifes will steal anything just for the thrill of doing it. I once worked the nightshift in a 7-11, where two women and their boyfriend came in and shoplifted a several cans of Spam. Spam!

  16. Dave R says:

    I work at the HD BORG and theft of tools is a major problem. Just this week I lost a Makaita Cordless 9.2v impact from a display. The thief had cut the chain and the security tag with a pair of sidecutters they stole from electrical. The tag for the sidecutters was left on the display where the impact had been. Sorry SOB, hope he rots in hades.

  17. Chadrad says:

    Regarding a point that forler98022 and Gary made, I agree that most of the stolen merchandise probably ends up on CL. And I agree with Chuck as well, if you want something, work for it and earn it the old fashioned way.

    Barri, the page refreshes because of all the rotating banner ads. I feel your pain and frustration as it is so difficult to get a post of any length in.

  18. Chris says:

    @Chadrad: No, the page refreshes because there’s a meta refresh tag in the header. Whomever is responsible for Toolmonger’s site code is perfectly capable of removing it, but has repeatedly turned a deaf ear to the large volume of complaints about it.

    I’m about thisclose to entirely removing Toolmonger from my RSS feeds as a result. I suggest anyone else annoyed with the site do the same. Complaining via comments and via e-mail has been utterly ineffective.


  19. dex says:

    Agree with above that warrantying tools that have been abused is akin to theft! I’m always amazed by how many guys can claim to do this without remorse!

  20. Times are tough says:

    Are you telling me everyone here has never nicked anything from a store in their life?

    I find that hard to believe.

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