The Raised Eyebrow: Walgreens “Polished” Off

Welcome to the first entry of The Raised Eyebrow (TRE) for 2016, and yes, I went for a pun with today’s entry. Today’s entry is brought to you (not sponsored) by BuzzFeed’s regurgitated article of a heist at a Walgreens in Midtown Manhattan. Regurgitated in the sense that the news originally appeared on DNAInfo and BuzzFeed decided to pick up on the story for its bizarre nature.

Now, having worked in a CVS Pharmacy branch for a year, the news of a Walgreens being robbed didn’t really surprise me: it happens. People have stolen beer (on my first day at the job. My boss was giving me a briefing when he got paged to the floor and caught someone stealing beer red handed), laundry detergent (apparently someone just walked out with a Tide jug while I was trying to help a customer at the friggin’ Self-Checkout machine), and cheap cosmetics from my store (this person got busted by security that were hired to deal with the abnormally low loss prevention rate. Employees are not allowed to confront thieves in the store, since it was the job of Loss Prevention to do so). There was another involving a kid but I can’t remember exactly what it was that he stole.

Point is, retail theft happens. Even more so in retail pharmacies. But the theft that took place in Walgreens in Midtown Manhattan is what made it worthy to be the first entry of TRE 2016: a man stole an entire display’s worth of Essie Nail Polish.

Yep. An entire wall full of nail polish was cleaned out in Manhattan.

Having worked in Brooklyn, I figured that Manhattan retail pharmacies would be more guarded and well-maintained due to the borough’s status as Tourist Central. Companies put more effort into their Manhattan stores than any of the other boroughs to appeal to tourists and to blend with the high-end aesthetic. And it showed: every major retail store I walked into looked much more presentable (with the exception of Staten Island, but the only retail-ish area I’ve ever gone on there was Staten Island Mall) and seemed more well-stocked (Lord knows my old store wasn’t).

So imagine my surprise and the rise of my eyebrow when BuzzFeed wrote about the Essie theft at Walgreens on West 48th Street, courtesy of DNA Info. The thief, a man, stuffed 192 bottles of Essie nail polish and ran off before he could be stopped. The value? $1,632.

Now, I get Essie is popular, but how badly needed is it that a store section was cleaned out in the afternoon in broad daylight? Either the guy is thinking of selling it to dollar stores or something or he’s got clientele to sell to – which would be rather stupid – considering that there are plenty of stores that carry Essie and they are available online as well. Unless he’s planning to sell them overseas (I dunno how accessible Essie is to other continents).

I figured he would have gone for the OPI set instead, considering they’re more valuable than Essie in terms of price. And if you were gonna steal something, you better make it worth the jail time that’s gonna follow (remember the guy who got busted for stealing cosmetics at my old CVS? He stole N.Y.C. stuff, which is well known to be dirt-cheap). But he must have been one ballsy thief to pull off such a heist in Midtown Manhattan (close to Times Square and cops) during the day.

But imagine my surprise when BuzzFeed mentioned that this wasn’t the first time a theft of this nature happened: another nail polish heist took place last Christmas in Lower Manhattan, except that the perp was a woman and she stole 123 bottles of Essie, worth $1,128 and that she did it at night.

I get that security is pricey, but it seems like Walgreens is making enough green to shrug off the idea of hiring security to protect their merchandise.

What will have me raising an eyebrow in the cosmetic scene? Tune in next Sunday to find out!

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