Watch: Shoplifter wedges chainsaw down his pants

A California man has been caught on camera carrying out perhaps the riskiest shoplifting attempt of all-time.

He was browsing hardware store RG Equipment in Fresno when he pulled a chainsaw off the shelves and stuck it down his pants.

The middle-aged man uses his jacket to try and hide the unwieldy bulge, walks right on out of the store and leaves in a pick-up truck.

Owner Jeff Bennett told local media it happened on Wednesday afternoon. He'd been distracted by an accomplice, but had a feeling afterwards they were up to no good - so after they left, he checked the CCTV footage.

"It was frustrating - you feel embarrassed, you feel confused," he told ABC.

"You kind of wish if they applied themselves doing something good for humanity and for life, the same energy they apply to steal."

The chainsaw was worth US$400.