Lessons in Expropriations

[submission from DJ Cunnilingus received on 01.04.21]


I’m writing today from occupied Cherokee territory to describe a failed action undertaken by myself, inspired by media seen on the Filler Distro social channels.

I received a misdemeanor citation for shoplifting a few hundred dollars worth of merchandise at a big box corporate store, one whose profits have soared since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and whose workers have risked their lives for the same meager hourly wage. I was there for supplies for houseless survival kits: items such as backpacks, gloves, a sleeping bag, warm hats, several pairs of pants in various sizes, packages of socks and shirts, deodorant, tampons, toothbrushes and other toiletries in travel sized containers, first aid kits, covid masks, etc. I intended to assemble the supplies into kits and distribute them amongst the local houseless population, which has of course seen a boom recently.

I wore plain nondescript clothes, a common medical mask, and a plain black beanie pulled down to my eyebrows. I walked in confidently, armed with a plastic bag full of bags, and a long receipt from another store in my pocket. I grabbed a buggy, and proceeded to confidently shop around the store, with my plastic bag of bags resting in the seat of the cart. I gathered my items and moved to a part of the store with no camera coverage and packed my items up in the plastic bags I had brought with me. I made my way to the front of the store and walked out when the receipt checker walked away, and as I was leaving the store a plainclothes “Asset Protection Manager” and another person ran up behind me, surprised me and apprehended me and redirected me towards the store and into an office.

I waited there for a while before 3 police officers showed up, all wearing bulletproof vests and holding their hands on their pistols as they entered. None of them wore masks, including the “asset manager.” They took a copy of my ID, social security #, phone #, and my picture. They wrote me a citation, and I’ll appear in court and likely receive a fine and probation/community service. It’s a cruel reminder of the banality of evil.

As a younger comrade, this was my first attempt at revolutionary expropriation. I had grown accustomed to occasional five finger discounts, but never larger scale swipes such as this. After discussing an action like it for a while with a comrade, I grew impatient and decided one day to undertake the action solo, guided by the mantra, “If not now, then when; If not me, then who?” Regardless, there is nothing noble in failure. Receiving a criminal charge will suck time and resources away from me which could have instead been funneled back into my community. The state will then leverage that charge against me whenever it can going forward. This is not to dissuade comrades from undertaking expropriative action. On the contrary, expropriation must spread. I wish to share the lessons I learned from this failure and discuss possibilities going forward.

First, I didn’t even know to be alert for “asset protection managers.” I hadn’t thought of that problem whatsoever, and I paid a price for that ignorance. Had I been less surprised at my apprehension, or quicker on my feet in the moment, I could have sprinted away when the asset protection manager and his cohorts descended on me. My car was parked in a far corner of the lot to avoid cameras, backed in to make for a quicker drive away, and better hide the license plate. A patch of woods and a residential neighborhood adjacent to the store could’ve served as a location to recoup and remove clothing layers before making my way back to my car via a different route.

In retrospect, I think my solo and all at once approach was stupid. A team of four comrades could’ve hit the same store much more quickly. If a list of items to loot were to be divided, perhaps by category, with crew member knowing exactly which items they are looting, and the approximate location of those items in the store, teams could go in and out, splitting up and acting as total strangers. Comrades can stagger their entrances into the store, agreeing beforehand on time inside and approximate exit times.

Comrade A would enter the store approximately two minutes before Comrade B enters. They’d both spend the same amount of time gathering items, and leave in the same 2 minute stagger. Comrades C and D would continue the cycle, with C entering 2 minutes after B. A “cover” item of some sort, such as a chocolate bar, to scan and actually pay for at self checkout, makes for added protection. Baggy nondescript clothing, masks, and hats are a must: two layers of grey bloc are ideal. If one comrade is descended upon by an asset protection manager or someone else of his kind, they can sprint away, perhaps into woods as in my case. Identifying clothing can be shed. The comrade who left the store with their own looted goods exactly two minutes prior to the compromised comrade, and the comrade expected to leave the store with other looted goods some two minutes later, will be able to rendezvous with and pick up the compromised comrade in a vehicle, losing only 25% of the loot, and staying safe and anonymous the entire time.

Members forced to act alone should understand the value in gathering goods from multiple locations. Survival items can be found in almost any store these days.

Try to hit stores away from where you live. Don’t hit the same big box stores in which you’ve already shown your face a dozen times or more. Be aware of surveillance cameras in parking lots and on intersections which can gather footage of cars and license plate numbers. Be aware of surveillance cameras within stores. Distribute goods in your community to those who need it most. In this case, the houseless sleeping outside in winter, who didn’t even receive the paltry $600 the ruling class decided to throw at us.

This is my first attempt at communication with other folks fighting directly against capital and empire. Transmissions from outlets such as yours serve as a beacon of hope and a place for learning. I humbly wish to join the conversation on entry points into action for younger folks like myself, and continue seeing actions spread which have real and immediate material impact. Filler Distro has been an important source for me, and analysis from such folks as the Anarchy in the Burbs crew really hits home as we struggle against logistics capital. Thanks for the work y’all do.

With love,
DJ Cunnilingus

You can send your report-backs, zine submissions, critiques, graffiti/action photos, demo tapes, hate mail, & memes to…


We’ll try to publish your report // promote your content // reply in a reasonable amount of punk time.

Send reports in email form, as an attachment, or better yet, on an easy to use (and free) Riseup Pad or CryptPad.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s