Running Store Distance Lets Customers Steal — If They Can Outrun Its Security Guard

Running store Distance is allowing customers to steal products from its shelves — with a catch.

On Sept. 13, the brand posted a sign outside of its store in Paris, which proclaimed “Rob It To Get It” as part of its latest campaign. Customers were allowed to steal items in-store marked with tags with the same lettering, but only if they could outrun the security guard — who happened to be undercover French sprinter Meba Mickael Zeze, according to The Washington Post.

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France’s Meba Mickael Zeze prepares for the men’s 4x100m relay heats at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary on Aug. 25, 2023.ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images

The sprinter’s involvement came from his break during competitions, as well as discovery by Damien Clanet of Parisian advertising agency BETC. Clanet tapped Zeze after reading about the sprinter’s search for Olympics 2024 sponsors, brainstorming that both the athlete and Distance could benefit from their involvement in a campaign together.

Zeze, who previously ran the 100-meter dash in less than 10 seconds, caught 74 customers during his daytime shift as Distance’s security guard; two customers, the article revealed, managed to leave with merchandise. This month, the rest of the running-focused items that customers attempted to steal were placed back on shelves with a discount. The attempted thefts can be seen in Distance’s full video for its “Rob It To Get It” campaign, which is now live on YouTube.

In other shoplifting news, brands including Target, Nike and Dick’s Sporting Goods are closing retail locations in light of increased shoplifting and retail crimes. As previously reported in FN, recent National Retail Federation (NRF) data showed that employee theft led to higher percentages of retail losses — and brands are inquiring experts on how to strategically combat the internal problem.

“The big stores need to look at it really on a store by store basis, and maybe have a menu of solutions depending on the depth of the problems,” said retail security consultant Chris McGoey.

About the Author:

Aaron Royce is the Digital Editor for Footwear News, where he writes stories on trending news, celebrity style, collaborations and in-depth profile interviews. Prior to joining Footwear News, Aaron wrote and interned for publications including PAPER, Grazia and the Daily Front Row. He currently holds a B.S. in mass communications from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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