We’ve all gone into the bathroom of a store and seen the signs telling us not to shoplift or else face prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. However, how many of us can say we have paid much attention to those signs or feel they really apply to us? Who are these signs talking to? I found one young man who was never deterred by such signs with threatening claims and I interviewed him to find out more about the why and how involved with the act of shoplifiting. He chose to remain anonymous.
Is Shop Lifting addicting?
I’m sure just like with anything there are those who are weaker to temptation and fall prey to addict syndromes. For me it wasn’t like that though, yeah you sometimes get a slight rush. More or less it became a part of daily routine and more of a going through the motions habit, one I’ve demonstrated over the years to easily give up if need be, which I have.
Why did you shoplift?
It is an act of rebellion. Society lays a stress on everything costing you something; the price to live is ridiculous. So it felt like a less harmful way of striking back at the core of what was wrong with society in the first place, that and it provided me with things I couldn’t afford.
When and why did you begin shoplifting?
I started stealing when I was really young. As a teen my friends and I would go down to the gas station and take candy bars. We also got into collecting sports cards and this station had their cards right under the front counter, so if we went in and bought a soda our hands under the counter would be stuffing packs of baseball cards into our pockets. Cards were worth money to us then and a pretty important hobby. I guess overall it was the doldrums of small town life that led to the actions, but then on top of that the financial aspect of things always comes in. For example I’d go around on my bicycle to the local bars where they would keep their aluminum cans outside in the alley. I would steal their bags of cans and take them to the recycle center where I would make pretty good money on return. Of course the act of stealing in this case turned into a more evil sort of fraud when I found out the recycle place wasn’t checking the cans before paying, so rocks started making it into the bags.
What are some things you have stolen and what is the biggest?
Cards, candy, soda, clothing, music cds, and movies. The biggest thing was probably a car air filter I opened the box and shoved the filter up the sleeve of my big poofy coat. Thing was big and awkward and I walked right out with it oddly enough.
Any particular stores targeted by you?
Mainly major retail like Wal-Mart, because everyone hates them anyway right? I wasn’t into stealing from friends or people on a smaller level of mom and pop operation. Sure at the time people could have told me my actions were just helping drive up prices anyway, but really then if I was having such an effect then others could just follow suit and steal too because I didn’t seem to have any problems.
Were you ever caught?
Tell us about some of the ways you went about taking things; share some stories.
Okay, well, I used to have a girlfriend that would just shove clothing into her purse. In a two person operation one can always be on the look out while the other stuffs the goods, on their person or the others. Most places like Wal-Mart have security cameras on the ceiling, but what are the chances anyone is watching at any given time? Also there are blind spots in every system. A favorite area of mine was always the purse aisle. The purse aisle would generally not have a direct angle for a camera and the purses overhung off the racks providing loads of cover for what your hands were doing. I would find the products I wanted and walk around the store under the pretense of shopping, slyly seeking out blind spots to make my moves.
Cd’s and Movies were easy. You find a spot to stuff them in your pants and then you take them into the restroom where you open them in a stall. If you want to protect the Cd from scratching you stick it in the music booklet, but you have to ditch the case because of the security tags.
I loved to read but never paid for books and justified it as in God wanted me to read so it was okay, ha ha. Books at mall establishments was a simple step of peeling off the price tag alarm thing and stuffing it in the front of my pants.
Shoes were another thing I wasn’t fond of having to buy. I’d go into a store, swipe a pair of scissors first; just for the hell of it, don’t know why I didn’t bring my own. Then go to the shoe aisle and try on shoes. When the coast was clear the scissors would cut off all the tags and security devices and I’d put my old shoes into the box and wear the new ones out.
Why did you stop stealing?
As you get older the risks outweigh the need. In retrospect all the Cds and movies and such that I stole I didn’t really even need and these days there isn’t all that much that I want to make it worthwhile to go actually steal it. Society and prices are still a drag on life, but I’m more off the grid financially these days any way. I guess like I said it wasn’t an addiction thing, just a thing at the time I thought I needed to do to get what I wanted. Honestly I know I have the skills to take something if I want it, but it is not a skill I need to apply. Did you know unless someone catches you in the act and has the video tape to back them up there really isn’t all that much done for shoplifting at say Wal-Mart? I had family that worked in Wal-Mart and they would have people set off the alarm detectors, but there wasn’t a thing they could do other than look through their cart, they’re not legally allowed to search your person or force you to stay for the police.
Anyone who has been caught shoplifting surely has more horrible stories to tell, however this interview gives some insight into the average mind of the petty thief; just your average joe. The usage of this information is not meant to inspire others to steal, especially in the revelation of methods, however is more or less an insider look that could actually help prevent further theft. Thanks go out to my subject for being so candid.