To watch John Berger, house detective, track
the shoppers wandering the rst oor of a depart- ment store on Manhattan’s Upper East Side is to witness attention in action. In a nondescript black suit, white shirt, and red tie, walkie-talkie in hand, John moves perpetually, his focus always riveted on one or another shopper. Call him the eyes of the store.
It’s a daunting challenge. There are more than 50 shoppers on his oor at any one time, drifting from one jewelry counter to the next, perusing the Valen- tino scarves, sorting through the Prada pouches.
As they browse the goods, John browses them. John waltzes among the shoppers. For a few
seconds he stands behind a purse counter, his eyes glued to a prospect, then its to a vantage point by the door, only to glide to a corner where a perch allows him a circumspect look at a potentially sus- picious trio.
What does he scan for? “It’s the way their eyes move or a motion in their body” that tips him to the intention to pilfer, John tells me. Or those shoppers bunched together, or the one furtively glancing around. “I’ve been doing this so long I…