After researching and writing this story about an increase in the number of grab ‘n’ go crimes in San Diego (that’s where a thief picks up an item in a store, usually a case of alcoholic beverages, and simply walks out), I was very excited to see my first grab ‘n’ go last night at my neighborhood Vons supermarket.

Actually, I saw two, within minutes of each other.

I popped into my local Vons, which is on Santa Fe Drive in Encinitas, at about 7:30 p.m. yesterday. As I walked into the store, I saw a middle-aged, shabbily dressed man shuffling towards me carrying a case of Corona beer in one hand. As I watched, he walked straight past me, through the exit and out into the night.

I know he hadn’t paid for the beer because he walked straight out from an aisle without going anywhere near the cash registers.

I shook my head in surprise at the incident and collected the few items I had popped out to buy. Then I took my place in the queue to pay for my groceries.

As I was standing there, another man — similarly dressed — stepped out from the beer area of the store and walked past me. I watched in amazement as he strolled right all the waiting shoppers and straight out of the store exit, without paying.

This time, a cashier saw the man leave and called out after him: “Excuse me sir, you need to put that back.” But the man was gone.

As I paid for my groceries, I mentioned to the cashier, who was also a store manager, that I had seen two grab ‘n’ gos in the last five minutes.

“I guess you can’t even go after them?” I said.

“No way,” she replied. “I’m management. I’d get in big trouble if I stepped out of the store and gave chase.”

WILL CARLESS

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