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Spare a square, lose your purse?

bathroom-stalls1Thursday night, while using the restroom during our Leading Women event, I got to thinking about male urinal usage strategy. (If you’re not familiar, here’s the world’s leading expert on the subject.)

This got me to thinking about female stall usage strategy. So, I gave several women in the office this hypothetical — you enter a public bathroom and someone is in one of the stalls. Which one do you use?

The women that didn’t immediately call our HR department gave me a few answers: the cleanest stall; the farthest one away from the stall in use; and the first stall, which many say is the cleanest stall.

All of which brings us to Thursday’s sentencing of Crystal Barner in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Barner received more than four years in prison and must pay more than $140,000 in restitution for her role in a scheme to steal wallets from women’s purses and using the credit cards to make purchases at nearby stores.

How did the group pull off the heists? According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office, the spare-a-square strategy:

Specifically, the leader of the scheme, Ida Mae Weathers, an experienced pickpocket, would linger in women’s restrooms and steal the wallets from purses hung on the hooks in the stalls. Often, Barner or one of the other co-conspirators would create a distraction in an adjacent stall, such as asking for toilet paper, so that the victim would be looking away from her purse. Barner and other conspirators also sometimes served as a “lookout” for Weathers. Often Weathers was able to remove cash and credit cards and return the wallet to the victim’s purse without the victim seeing or suspecting the theft.

(Weathers was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $150,000 in restitution.)

So there you have it, one more reason to be wary while using a public restroom. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to take this call from our corporate office.