Walmart AirPods thief.
Source: Columbia County Sheriff's Office

Fake Walmart Employee Steals $3,000 Worth of AirPods; Just Struts Out the Store

By

Mar. 1 2021, Published 1:50 p.m. ET

There are some thieves who will go to extreme lengths in order to carry out the perfect heist, and that just isn't in the fictional world of upscale casino heists involving dance tracks and parkour. There are everyday shoplifters who will casually walk into a store and, in plain sight, commit theft that's worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Like this one young man who nabbed $2,815 worth of AirPods from an Evans, Ga. Walmart.

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How was he able to pull off the heist? It was a combination of different factors. First, identifying who he is will be pretty difficult, as all employees are required to wear facial coverings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. All he needed to do grab an employee's vest, which, from the security camera footage, looks very, very legit. It even has a nametag on it and everything.

He went during the evening, presumably during an especially busy time, and walked to the store's electronics section with a barrel key that opened a cabinet containing tons of Apple products. He went for the AirPods, and managed to grab a whopping 15 sets of the popular standalone Bluetooth headphones.

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Here's why stealing AirPods and not other devices like phones or laptops was probably on the thief's list of priorities: the first reason probably being the size. He'd be able to carry a heck of a lot more AirPods than he would iPads and laptops. AirPods are, pound for pound, some of the more expensive devices in the store, too. Plus, AirPods don't require any special activation to use.

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While iMacs, Macbooks, iPads, and iPhones can all be connected to WiFi and if those serial numbers are reported stolen, Apple can put the banhammer on those devices rendering them effectively useless, AirPods can be paired to pretty much any Apple device. He'd easily be able to sell those brand spanking new headsets on the street or online for a discount and turn a big profit.

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The Columbia County Sheriff's Office in Georgia released photos of the man in the hopes of finding information that may lead to his arrest. As of now, he hasn't been apprehended.

This criminal isn't the first person to dress up as a Walmart employee to pilfer items from the store without paying for them. It's actually a pretty popular M.O. that's been dispatched throughout the years by shoplifters.

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The Charlotte Observer reported in 2018 that there was a "fad" where thieves would pose as Walmart employees in a variety of different scams. One plot involved walking through the Walmart parking lot wearing an employee uniform and asking customers if they could see their receipt. They would then walk back into the store with the receipt and attempt to use it to return items for cash or store credit.

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Then there was a man, as reported by local news station WITN, who went to eight different Walmarts in North Carolina and made quite the burglarizing career for himself stealing television sets.

fake walmart employee fairfax virginia
Source: Fairfax County Police
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Then there was the case of a Virginia man who posed as a Walmart employee and actually rang a customer up in 2016. He completed the transaction and everything was business as usual...until it wasn't.

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He grabbed some money out of the register and walked out of the store as if everything was normal. (There have been other reported crimes at Walmart locations in Fairfax where crooks would also "tap" credit card readers with devices that would store customer credit card information.)

Then there was another Walmart thief in Albuquerque, New Mexico who donned an outfit and loaded a cart with pinatas and big-screen TVs, as per KRQE.

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A Wyoming Walmart also had to deal with two individuals wearing employee vests and standing outside of its store. The criminals pretended they were collecting donations for the Salvation Army but they weren't affiliated with the charitable organization at all and it's presumed they were taking the money they gathered from generous strangers for themselves.

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It's not just Walmart where this phenomenon is happening, either. Smug Target Stans are probably reading this article and chuckling to themselves thinking, "there's no WAY this would happen in the infinitely more classy Target," as they munch on Archer Farms caramel corn.

Well, you'd be wrong.

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In March, 2017 NBC4 reported that "Detectives in Virginia are looking for a woman who disguised herself as a Target employee and stole more than $40,000 worth of iPhones."

In case you're wondering, $40,000 worth of iPhones is probably around 40 units. And to think it was only a few years ago that people were freaking out over the fact the phone debuted at $600 with a 2-year ATT contract.

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"The woman, dressed as an employee of Target, walked into the Richmond Highway store and made her way back to the stockroom. Once inside, she placed the iPhones in a box and left the store, Fairfax County police said."

Since this crime occurred well before everyone was rocking face masks to help protect themselves from a global pandemic, security cameras were able to capture the woman's face in plain sight.

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Retail outlets aren't the only places experiencing "impostor thieves." Not to get all fear mongering on you, but there have been several instances of people rocking outfits and snatching packages right off of people's doorsteps.

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While seeing someone just strut up to someone's home and take a package off of their stoop, porch, or doorstep may seem like a pretty strange occurrence, if you were to see someone dressed up as a FedEx employee, like the package thief in Oregon shown above, that's something that is definitely less striking.

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Then there was this one thief who posed as a WaWa employee in New Jersey who waltzed into a Mount Laurel location and walked out with $380 worth of cigarettes.

mount laurel police department
Source: Mount Laurel Police Department
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What's strange about the WaWa smokes job is that it involved three people who orchestrated the heist: one of the thieves acted as a lookout while another was waiting in the car as a getaway driver. It was a highly thought-out ploy just for a haul of smokes.

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And when it comes to Apple products, it seems like the Cupertino-based tech giant's own retail chains are not immune to theft themselves. In the SoHo, NY location, one thief who dressed a worker in the store waltzed in and out with 19 iPhones valued at $16, 130. He then passed the items off over to an accomplice who put them under their shirt. Real slick.

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The New York Post reported that the same thing had occurred in the Upper West Side twice in one week utilizing a similar tactic. Someone who dressed as an Apple store employee managed to get away with 59 iPhones valued at $44,000 by passing them off to a female thief who was in cahoots with them. She waited in the bathroom as they orchestrated the heist.

So there are tons of crooks out there who have no problems getting their hands on an outfit from a retail location and taking the time to understand how employees operate in the space before enacting their plan. Guess all those years playing Hitman paid off for them. You know, until they're arrested.

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