Confessions of shoplifters




I don’t think I’ve ever shoplifted from a store, but I did finance six months of unemployment with stuff which I’d walked out with from my previous job.
At the time I saw it as being entirely justified by the crapness of the job and the pay, and by how terrible their security was.


I have no judgment or condemnation for these folks–i lost my halo decades ago–but a little more ‘golden rule’ would be a good thing. If you shoplifted clothes as a teen, well you may consider volunteering your time at a thrift shop or shelter.


Judgement aside, it’s strange to me that some of these folks are proud of what they’ve done. Some ideas just make no sense to me.


The banality of rationalizing petty theft makes me pity these people far more than their repentance would. Like, somebody out there actually believes stealing shit is “dangerous” or “thrilling”.


I’m just going to put this right here… Also, Top of the Pops…

Also, also… I’m not sure what I think about the drawings in the article. I guess they are going for a certain aesthetic (did I spell that right?)?


Are we counting the pick and mix bins? Because I def eat a caramel every time I walk by those.


I got turned on to shoplifting in my early 30’s by a housemate who made it look SO easy. At first it was ‘I feel a cold coming on and I don’t have $20 for Echinacea’ or whatever, and turned into a severe compulsion. I’ve always believed that ‘the justification is worse than the original offense,’ so I never tried to rationalize it. I knew it was wrong, but it was too easy to just walk out with stuff. I actually prayed to get free of the compulsion (and I’m not the sort that usually prays for anything.) Finally one day I got a flash of a slightly expanded perspective (one I had tried to get to rationally, but never succeeded) and saw the harm that I was doing, and all subsequent desire to shoplift left me. Haven’t done it since.


I did when I was a little kid, mostly as a game–I’d leave the store with more gum than I could chew in two weeks. Much later, during a very brief stint in retail, I realized that a substantial amount of “shrinkage” (maybe most of it, depending on where you worked and what they sold) was entirely due to theft by employees, and that many of them considered it part of their unofficial compensation. I still had fun figuring out ways to get stuff out of the store without being caught by the numerous cameras, but I didn’t actually do it.


About a decade and a half ago I worked as a bookseller for one of the major bookstore chains around here. A few months into my time there one of the managers was fired. He’d always seemed like an okay guy and I expressed my puzzlement to another manager. The response was essentially, “When you’re the supervisor in charge of reducing shrink and it turns out you’re the main cause of shrink, you probably won’t last long.”


Failed shoplifters have caused me to accidentally shoplift on more than one occasion. I’m talking people who stuff an item into another item and then chicken out at some point and leave it. I’ve gotten home with storage bins and bags and then discovered other things hidden inside. I suppose returning it later is less embarrassing than getting “caught” at the checkout would be, though.


I can’t believe this hasn’t been posted yet:


That reminded me of my little trick that always worked and I never got caught. I was going to describe it, but out of a sense of not wanting to lay temptation before the morally weak, I’ve decided I won’t. Shoplifting is bad, mmmmkay?


Dude, you’re doing it wrong. You want the tussin >:)


For some reason, the guy who returned stuff every year to replace it came off as the most morally sleazy. The other stuff is just stealing, but his is the reason we can’t have nice things.


there’s a movie called Garbo Talks on my TV right now and Anne Bancroft is getting bailed out from a shoplifting bust. Weird.

I used to shoplift on the regular when i was young and broke and invincible. I never really got a thrill out of it, it was just stuff I needed or wanted and couldn’t afford. I stayed fed during a particularly broke period from a compromised vending machine for a while. I’d steal paint, film, and other stuff I needed for school. Small, expensive items. Like, I’d buy a cart full of groceries, but steal all the spices or deodorant I needed to lower my bill. But i’d also steal CDs and books, sunglasses, I stole a lego kit once, so it wasn’t just subsistence-level theft, either. I viewed it as practical given my finances, I got pretty casual about it. never understood the people with a compulsion, who got a rush from it. I quit robbing small independent stores almost immediately even though they were way easy, my policy was large corporate chains or the stores ran by my University that I was paying tuition to. Maybe that’s a rationalization but that was my policy.

One day my luck ran out and I got caught, stopped completely. I was done with school right around then and started working full-time for the first time in my life, I could afford all the stuff I used to steal anyway. I could even afford to buy new clothing rather than just thrift-store stuff.

I guess i still look suspect. Nowadays, most places I go, I make it a point to say whassup to the security guy and ask if he want’s me to check my bag. But the undercovers at Target follow me around the store every time I go in even though I’m careful to keep my hands in sight at all times and avoid hanging out anywhere that seems like it could be a “dead zone” in the security. Ah well, guess that’s my penance.


I’ve always looked fairly suspect to store-security, so back in my parka-with-multiple-pockets day I never used to bother with baskets or bags. I was going to get stopped anyway.

I figured while the security was watching me fill my pockets with stuff, carry it to the checkout and pay for it, someone else could be getting away with nicking stuff.


one of my art teachers was black, he didn’t steal, but he’d always get followed so he’d just stop and wave at them. he said his friend and the friend’s white gf used to play them against each other. the security would follow the black guy the whole time and the white girl would rack up.

[edited for clarity]


You seem to have fallen for the ruse that corporations are moral actors. You cannot transgress against them because they themselves have no sense of right and wrong, nor can they feel suffering.


Eh, even though you may believe you can’t transgress against corporations, I hate to break it to you but you can against their employees. So if you can just “stick it to the man”, good for you. But life is generally messier than that and other people get in the way.