The Politics of Productivity

There is an urban legend (probably originating in an episode of Dragnet) about a gang of clothing store thieves whose modus operandi was to use a long stick to remove large numbers of clothes from racks at once, allowing them to rob stores very quickly. According to the urban legend, the gang was caught when one store, at the suggestion of a cop, arranged its clothes with alternate hangers facing opposite directions (see photograph below). This messed up the efficient de-racking and slowed the thieves down by forcing them to remove one hanger at a time.

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