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Hidden-Camera Revelation: Laundromat Customers Confront Crime

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Laundromat cart.
Laundromat cart. (Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/DanBrandenburg)

Paul Partyka |

NEW YORK — Is laundry theft a problem at your store? Do customers “step up” when they notice theft, or are crimes rarely reported to you and/or your attendants?Laundry theft is not often treated as a serious crime, according to ABC News. However, one particular type of laundry theft is seen as a serious crime by law-enforcement authorities: stealing women’s underwear.In Portland, Ore., one convicted panty thief was sentenced to 11 years in jail, according to ABC. He’d stolen more than 3,000 pairs of women’s undergarments from laundry rooms near colleges.ABC News recently used its hidden-camera series (one of the current formats of ABC Primetime), “What Would You Do?” (WWYD), to explore laundry theft and see how customers would react when witnessing the crime. WWYD uses hidden cameras to capture bystander reactions as actors stage unlawful acts. Click here to view the clip.In a recent segment, an actor portrays a laundry thief who picks clothes out of dryers at a busy Laundromat, almost as if he was shopping for items. Another actor, playing a customer, ask customers if they would keep an eye on her dryer while she steps out to run an errand. The “thief” then starts taking clothes from the dryer the customer has been entrusted with and putting the ones he likes in a basket with all the other clothes he’s taken.The same scenario with a laundry thief who is only interested in women’s underwear is also staged.How do you think the customers reacted? In both of the cases, the customers become involved, and take action against the thief. 

About the author

Paul Partyka

American Coin-Op

Paul Partyka was editor of American Coin-Op from 1997 through May 2011.

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