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As the New England Patriots clinched their fifth Super Bowl title, fans overwhelmed the local Modell’s Sporting Goods store to the point where some South students could not resist the temptation of shoplifting.
A senior girl, who wished to remain anonymous, explains how the tradition of going to Modell’s after a Super Bowl win remains ingrained in the community.
“It is just a known tradition to go and buy the new Patriots swag after we win a super bowl, so we all decided to be a part of that environment. It was awesome. So many people from South and North and just the Newton community showed up,” said an anonymous senior girl.
With this tradition’s popularity, the store quickly surpassed its regular capacity, as fans, like the senior girls describes, rushed into Modell’s as soon as the last touchdown was scored.
“When they got the touchdown, we all got in our cars right away like I didn’t put my shoes on it was so quick. So we got there pretty early and there wasn’t really a long line. But minutes after we were trying to pick out the stuff, crowds and crowds of people of all ages pushing and shoving and just reaching in and trying to grab whatever they could to get in line or walk away. It was like a raid,” said the senior girl.
A junior boy, who preferred to stay anonymous, corroborates the senior girl’s story and describes how mismanaged and unprepared Modell’s was with controlling the crowd.
“So there was maybe four people working at Modell’s and probably 500 people… and there was this ring of cardboard boxes filled with t-shirts and there is like two people inside of the ring and they were the only people giving out t-shirts. It was like a zombie apocalypse basically and yelling… and there were two people working the cash register and the line was just so long and somebody had a seizure,” said the junior boy.
Due to the crowd of people, Newton police officers were present, but according to the junior boy, the police officers remained in the parking lot outside of the store.
The senior girl, who stole two t-shirts from Modell’s, explains that this chaotic scene allowed shoplifters to go easily unnoticed.
“At Modell’s, usually the regular stuff they have there, there is that that plastic thing where if you walk through the doors the alarm will go off, but these were shirts with just plastic tags on them… Since there were so many people there and no one was watching you, just tuck them in a pocket or your sweatshirt, just walk out, and no one would really notice,” said the senior girl
This ease of stealing coupled with the large price tag of the merchandise remains the reason the senior girl decided to take the clothes.
Agreeing with the senior girl, the junior boy also cites his hatred for Modell’s authoritarian image as a reason for stealing and says “I just hate Modell’s all year long and I feel like this is the one good time to get back at it.”
For students who did pay for their merchandise, like sophomore Anika Sridhar, the fact that her peers exploited the store remains frustrating to those like herself who had to wait over an hour in line.
“I think that’s kind of upsetting because it really takes away from the whole spirit of what was happening because Modell’s takes a risk ordering all the merchandise every year and just walking out with it is kind of frustrating because I waited and I know a lot of other people who waited in the line for over an hour just to be a part of the crowd,” said Sridhar.
Though she did not witness any shoplifting at the store, Sridhar says she can see how easy it would be to steal the merchandise as the energy and volume of the crowd just overwhelmed store employees.
For future Super Bowl wins, the senior girl recommends that Modell’s places security guards at the doors not only to prevent theft, but also for safety concerns.
“It’s just tricky because there are so many people there, but maybe have like a couple of guards standing by the doors because it’s also for people stealing stuff, but also some kid passed out and everyone is pushing and shoving and you could get trampled, so like not just for stealing stuff, but for general safety,” said the senior girl.
The senior girl does admit that she remains uncertain if her recommendation will be effective as police officers were present at the store, but were unable to stop thefts.
Sridhar recommends that Modell’s “should get the police to come earlier like before the game ends because from what I remember is the police were there only thirty minutes after the game ended at which point there were already tons of people,” said Sridhar.
If the police were at the store from the moment it opened, they could more effectively regulate the crowd, and thus reduce the number of thefts Sridhar explains.
Ultimately, the junior boy displays no regret for stealing merchandise and adding on, the senior girl sees this Super Bowl win as even more memorable due to the tradition of shopping at Modell’s.
“It was also my adrenaline going crazy and I have stolen things before and I know this sounds horrible, but it’s kind of fun to do it and it’s a memory honestly and it was kind of in the moment thing,” said the senior girl.