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To stop shoplifters, W’burg store tries public humiliation

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One Williamsburg grocery chain is so inundated with thieves that it’s taken to publicly shaming the offenders — by posting their pictures all over the storefront.

Dozens of photos taken by the store’s security cameras line the windows of Khim’s Millennium Markets — which has three locations in the heart of the neighborhood — and the owner is clearly getting fed up with the perps.

“This lady shoplifted several times in our store so we are putting her pictures on the door,” owner Charlie Khim wrote underneath a security photo of an elderly woman at the shop on Driggs Avenue and N. 11th Street. “Lady, please don’t come to our store or out neighborhood. … Now you are famous!”

It’s a humorous, albeit effective, tactic in suppressing theft in Khim’s high-end organic markets. Sure, the fliers clutter Khim’s windows — with a big black circle around the crook and the message, “Shoplifter!” scrawled in ink above his or her head — but the 12-year businessman said that the disgraced punks rarely come back.

The kicker is that Khim tends to play nice after the first offense. Indeed, he didn’t call police when one tight-shirted goon stole some cheese and drinkable yogurt from the Driggs Avenue location on Aug. 3, but now the crook is forever emblazoned on the wall of shame — as a dairy-drinking dunce.

“Sometimes I let people go if I catch them in the act, but if I see them more than once I call the cops,” Khim said. “Most people who shoplift from my supermarket are not poor. If they are, I usually let them go.”

His bold vengeance isn’t received well by everyone — some customers told us that the fliers are a rude way of criminalizing locals forever without giving them a second chance. But Khim countered the argument, noting that he’ll take a sign down if the petty thief wants to apologize.

Plus, he doesn’t name any names — he just publicly displays what the camera sees.

“If you have any problem with your friend’s picture here, let the management know about it and we will show you the DVD file,” Khim wrote on one of the fliers.

— with Steven Goodstein

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Reader Feedback

Marc from North Williamsburg says:
Excellent Idea Mr Khim! Right On!
Aug. 10, 2010, 7:15 am
Rose from Graham/Grand area says:
I feel Khim has created an unfriendly shopping environment. They have so many video cameras and monitors and threatening signs in (and outside) the store in my area that I feel they must be suspicious of every customer. I've never shoplifted, but I would rather not shop somewhere that makes me feel like I'm a potential criminal. Prosecute thieves, yes, and protect your business, but why the public shaming and threats? And why make the rest of us feel scrutinized? I always look for the items I want to buy in other stores before I shop in one of this chain's locations.
Aug. 10, 2010, 10:50 am
Harry from Park Slope says:
Yes, punish them. They are naughty. Humiliate the little babies. Watch them poop their diapers because they are so sad.
Let them know what it feels like to be the cheese they steal.
Aug. 10, 2010, 11:42 am
cranky from williamsburg says:
I have no problem with the shoplifter pictures, I just wish Mr. Khim would spend more time rooting out the rotting inventory and rotating it with fresh stuff. I won't buy bread there because it's always moldy, their citrus is rock-hard, and they scrape the sell-by dates off the fish in the refrigerated section.
Aug. 10, 2010, 12:12 pm
Lewis from Willsburg says:
I think the writer is bad at counting. I think there are closer to 70 Khims locations in the neighborhood
Aug. 10, 2010, 1:54 pm
Jocelyn from Williamsburg says:
Well if they stop the shoplifter's than maybe they can start lowering their outrageous prices. Khim's prices are almost offensive.
Aug. 11, 2010, 11:06 am
Thomas from Williamsburg says:
Mr Khim also has the bad habit of putting a lower price on some items, then when you bring it to the counter, they say its twice as much and the price on the package was a 'mistake'. (and no, they wont honor the listed price). So when is Mr Khims picture going up in his 'hall of shame'?
Aug. 11, 2010, 12:48 pm
CC from BBurg says:
Khim's young ill.
Aug. 18, 2010, 2:39 am

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